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9 Players Who Left Barca Because Of Messi

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is widely considered the greatest player in FC Barcelona's history, but his is a career that has perhaps hurt a few other players' chances of shining at the club. Here are nine stars who left the Catalan club due to the Argentine's brilliance.

Click through the gallery above to see nine players who left Barca, directly or indirectly, because of Messi.

After breaking into the senior team in the 2004/05 season, the Argentine forward has scored goal after goal, and produced magic moment after magic moment, to earn his status as arguably the best player in the club's long and successful history.

From around the time he was 21 years old, the team has appeared to revolve around him, a responsibility his skill perhaps demands. While he was a rising talent under Frank Rijkaard, it was Pep Guardiola who first decided to build the team around Messi, a decision he did not live to regret.

In 2008, upon his arrival in Barca's hot seat as manager, Guardiola's first big move was to sell both Deco and Ronaldinho, who had both been regular first-team players prior to his arrival. The thinking behind the decision was reportedly to protect Messi, who was very close with both players, and Ronaldinho in particular.

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This story has been echoed a thousand times, but most recently by former Barca winger Aleksandr Hleb, who told Voka TV that: "Ronaldinho and Deco came to training drunk. That's why Ronaldinho and Deco were sold in 2008. Because they (Barca) were afraid that they would bring down Lionel Messi."

Guardiola was seemingly afraid Deco and Ronaldinho's partying ways would have a negative influence on Messi, and although it might not have had he kept them, it was apparently not a risk the current Manchester City manager was willing to take.  

A few more players saw their careers at Barca fade to black, but perhaps more for tactical reasons, or because Messi's growing importance in the team meant that a few others lost theirs. Ludovic Giuly might have been a victim of the latter as he was in his thirties at the time the Argentine was a young and promising talent. Giuly began to feature less and less, before he joined Monaco in 2007.

Samuel Eto'o was close to leaving the Catalans at the same time as Ronaldinho and Deco, perhaps as Guardiola had plans to use Messi centrally. The Cameroonian did eventually leave a season later, in a swap deal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede lasted just one season at Barca, however, and coincidentally left just before Messi started being used in a "false nine" role.

The likes of Alexis Sanchez, David Villa and Pedro could also never really cement regular spots in Barca's strongest XI. Sanchez joined the Catalans as a right-winger, a side of the pitch Messi would naturally drift into, while Villa, Spain's highest goalscorer of all time, was shifted to the left.

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Neither of them were able to play in their favoured positions, as was the case with Pedro, who was used as a squad player until he joined Chelsea in search of regular minutes, and Gerard Deulofeu.

Which of these players do you think Barca should have held on to for longer? Let us know in the comments section below.

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