Laporta rues Ronnie decision
Joan Laporta feels that he made a mistake by not letting Ronaldinho leave Barcelona a year earlier.
By Lucas Brown
Last Updated: 10/10/08 3:53pm
Joan Laporta feels that he made a mistake by not letting Ronaldinho leave Barcelona a year earlier, and has also admitted that he considered reinstalling Johan Cruyff as coach last season.
The Barcelona president has explained that he felt Ronaldinho - now at AC Milan - had more to give before the downturn in the level of his displays.
The Brazilian star's fitness and form were criticised and debated during his last two years at Camp Nou and even Laporta admits that circumstances changed after the club won an historic double in 2006.
"The year after we won the title and the UEFA Champions League we saw signs of relaxation, but we came close to winning the league again and we decided to keep certain players out of gratitude," he said in Marca.
"Now that we know what happened, I would not have taken that decision. But the fact is that he did not leave.
"Ronaldinho was always positive with us and he was the first one to say that he did not want to leave.
"He told us that he wanted to be No.1 again and for that reason we opted to keep him."
Samuel Eto'o was also on the list of players to off-load after a problematic 2007/08, but his change of attitude in pre-season meant that Laporta chose to keep him.
"He is highly motivated and committed to the team. He is one of the pillars of the squad," Laporta continued.
"At one time we had a brief talk about him, but I immediately saw that it was clear that if he continued to show the same attitude then he should stay."
Laporta then revealed how Pep Guardiola pushed for the first-team coaching job when he was appointed as the club's B team trainer by betting him he would not take the risk by handing him the role.
"He said that I would not have the courage to make him head coach one day and I told him that I would. If we did not win anything with Rijkaard then I would," Laporta explained.
"Then he repeated that I would not be brave and I asked why I should and he told me that he would go for the league.
"Cruyff told me in December 2007 that Guardiola was ready to coach the first team.
"When I told Rijkaard that if he did not win anything then Guardiola would replace him, he wanted him to join his coaching staff, but Pep was very focussed on Barca B.
"What is also certain is that I thought about asking Cruyff to return last season to end the campaign if Rijkaard left early."