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5 Top Players Pep Guardiola Sold During His Time at Barcelona and How They Fared Later On

Pep Guardiola's Barcelona side are regarded as the greatest in the history of club football, but it was not without it's controversy as the Spaniard made decisions which shocked many, particularly when it came to selling some of their star players.

Here, we take a look at the five top stars he sold and how their careers fared post their stint at the Nou Camp.

5. Deco

The first player to win the UEFA Best Midfielder Award with two clubs, Porto and Barcelona - Deco was a dazzling presence in the centre of the park during Frank Rijkaards reign at the Nou Camp.

However, despite his pedigree, Guardiola was ruthless after taking over, sending the Portugese star packing in 2008 - with the player joining Chelsea and despite being past his best, he helped them win the double in 2009/10.

“Ronaldinho and Deco came to training drunk. That’s why Ronaldinho and Deco were sold in 2008. Because they were afraid that they would bring down Lionel Messi," Alexander Hleb told V OKA TV in 2019.

Whatever the circumstances, there is no doubt that Deco was one of the best foreign imports to play in La Liga during his era.

Barcelona stats

Appearances: 161

Goals: 20

Trophies won: 5

4. Yaya Toure

Despite starring for the club in an unfamiliar centre-back position in the final of the 2009 Champions League, Guardiola decided to sell Yaya Toure the following season as it was believed that the two did not share a cordial relationship.

"Whenever I asked him something, he always gave strange answers. He pretty much ignored me until City’s offer came in. That’s why I eventually opted to leave. I didn’t speak to Guardiola for a year. If he had talked to me, I would have stayed at Barcelona. However, he had no faith in me," Toure told ONA FM in 2014.

Barcelona's loss was Manchester City's gain as the Ivory Coast star went on to achieve legendary status during his eight-years at the Etihad. However, things got awkward as he was once again reunited with the Spaniard in 2016 and eventually left for Olympiakos in 2018.

Barcelona stats

Appearances: 118

Goals: 6

Trophies won: 7

3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

That Guardiola himself bought Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the club in 2009 just went to show how highly he rated the Super Swede, but things did not go down well between the two as the pair did not see eye-to-eye - with their relationship completely breaking down after a Champions League semifinal loss to Inter Milan in 2010.

“Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it. I thought, ‘There is my enemy, scratching his bald head!’ I yelled, ‘You haven’t got any balls!’ and worse than that I added, ‘You can go to hell!’I completely lost it, and you might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he’s a spineless coward," he wrote in his autobiography.

The Swede was soon sent packing from the club to AC Milan, first on-loan and then permanently where he helped them win the 2011 Serie A title. Sucessful spells with PSG,  Manchester United and LA Galaxy followed, with the now 38-year-old returning back to Milan, where he is still banging in the goals.

Barcelona stats

Appearances: 46

Goals: 22

Trophies won: 5

2. Samuel Eto'o

That Guardiola decided to sell Samuel Eto'o who then was at the peak of his powers and had netted 36 goals in their Treble winning season of 2008/09, came as a surprise to many including the player himself.

Used as part of a swap deal which brought Ibrahimovic to the Nou Camp, the Cameroonian quickly proved that it was a huge mistake on the Spaniard's part, helping Inter Milan to the Treble in 2009/10, while also knocking his former club out of the competition in the semifinal stage.

Eto’o joined Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011 and had spells with Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria, Antalyaspor, Konyaspor and Qatar SC before hanging up his boots in 2019. 

Barcelona stats

Appearances: 199

Goals: 130

Trophies won: 8

1. Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho was without doubt the best player at the club by the time Guardiola took over, but the Spaniard showed that he did not care for reputations as he decided to sell their talisman, primarily due to his party lifestyle and attitudes off the pitch.

The Brazilian who was the one who rejuvenated the club on his arrival in 2003, was sold to AC Milan for £16.7million and while he impressed in his first two seasons, it was soon apparent that he lacked the discipline to perform consistently.

The Brazilian returned to Flamengo in 2011 before retiring seven years later as one of the best players in the history of the sport.

Barcelona stats

Appearances: 207

Goals: 94

Trophies won: 5