Xavi lifts lid on Ronnie's life

Brazilian paid the price for off-field excess

Ronaldinho: Full of life

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Barcelona midfielder Xavi believes Ronaldinho was responsible for his own downfall in Spain.

The Brazilian superstar left Camp Nou this summer, taking on a new challenge at Serie A giants AC Milan.

The former World Player of the Year had struggled over the last two seasons to replicate the form he displayed on his arrival in Catalunya.

This dip led to suggestions that his excesses off the field were beginning to affect his performances on it.

This belief is backed up by his former team-mate, with Xavi admitting that the precociously gifted playmaker began to pay the price for leading a questionable lifestyle.

Knives

"Ronnie has always led the same sort of lifestyle," the Spain international told Marca.

"He always told us, 'that's the way I am'.

"When you lead that sort of life you have to understand that when your level drops then the knives will be out. He is like that, he likes going out and enjoying life.

"He was full of life ever since he arrived and that's how he won two league titles and Champions League."

Idol

Ronaldinho saw his fitness levels called into question as he influence on the side began to wane, leading to his eventual €25million (£19.7million) switch to Milan.

"He has his own private life that should not be interfered with, but it is true that private life also affects his sporting performances," added Xavi.

"Ronnie went from being an idol for all Barcelona fans to being jeered and criticised, and that hurts anyone."

Samuel Eto'o was another high-profile star expected to leave Barca during the close season, but Xavi believes the Cameroon international has rediscovered his passion for the club.

"People think he is unprofessional and a bad team-mate, as if he were a time bomb waiting to explode in the dressing room, but he is nothing of the sort. He is a fine example of professionalism," he said.

"He knows he has made a lot of mistakes, but he surprises me with his enthusiasm and the sacrifice he makes in every game. He wants to be the best, and he is."