Despite the myth being that Ronaldinho helped Lionel Messi transform into the player he is today, the Brazilian has admitted that the Argentine never needed his help. The two spent nearly five years together before Ronaldinho left for AC Milan and handed over the mantle to Messi in the process.
The former Gremio star left PSG and joined Barcelona a year after winning the 2002 World Cup and spent a little over five years before leaving in 2008. However, in that spell, there were few players are good as Ronaldinho in the world with the Brazilian even winning the Ballon d’Or with the La Liga giants. But, the now 39-year-old’s grandest achievement may go down as helping Lionel Messi become the player he is today.
And yet, in an interview, the former AC Milan attacker went on to reveal that Messi never needed any help from him despite the myth that surrounded the two. He also added that while he and the Argentine were very close, the records that the Barcelona star has broken over the last few years are beyond incredible and he hopes that it keeps happening.
"When I arrived at Barcelona, there was already talk of a kid [Messi] who stood out. Then we were friends; we started playing together and we got on very well. He arrived being different to all the others, and we spoke with [Frank] Rijkaard so that he came to train with us - it was all very fast. Leo has everything, he didn't need anything from me. I was lucky enough to give him the pass for his first goal. Over time, it's very nice to see someone who starts out so close [to you] and then conquers the world," Ronaldinho told Panenka magazine.
The 39-year-old had a glittering career across the world with spells in France, Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Italy before he eventually retired. That also meant that he played under a host of managers including Carlo Ancelotti, Leonardo, Frank Rijkaard, Dunga, Luiz Felipe Scolari and even Massimiliano Allegri. But Ronaldinho went on to admit that Rijkaard was the best manager he ever played under.
"He's a great coach, a very quiet guy, the best I've ever worked with. He knew everything because he played at the highest level, and that made things easy for us. Everything he asked us to do, he has already done it before, so he spoke to us in a very simple and direct way. He gave me a lot of freedom to play my football. When we didn't have the ball, we also had to fulfil our obligations. But when we had it, he made me feel completely free," Ronaldinho said of the Dutchman.