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David Beckham: Laporta’s broken promise that led to Ronaldinho’s signing

Prior to Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho was the King in Barcelona. It’s impossible to understand Barcelona’s recent successful history without Ronaldinho’s figure. The Brazilian star arrived at Barça in 2003 and helped the club to emerge from the shadows and put one of the most disgusting eras in the club history behind. Ronaldinho was signed right after the 2003 presidential election. Joan Laporta become the new President of the club and he failed to address his pivotal promise during the campaign: signing David Beckham. Ronaldinho wasn’t in Laporta’s shortlist and in Cruyff’s, the elected President’s counselor, either.

Laporta in the Summer of 2003: “Beckham could be Barcelona’s new leader. We have ongoing negotiations with Manchester United and I am really optimistic. We’ll be talking to the player soon”. Laporta & Rossel duo were very confident of their chances of signing the most popular player football has ever witnessed. “It’s my pleasure to announce that we’ve reached an agreement with Manchester United and we have a signed document that proves it”, told Laporta to El Periódico. The English club website confirmed the deal.

Busted move or broken promise?

There are still many questions about Beckham-Barcelona busted move. When did Laporta and Rosell realized that the signing was impossible? How long did they maintain the lie during the campaign? Were they really interested in Beckham? What Laporta said three days after being elected (“I never promised Beckham. His agent didn’t want to talk to us”) has nothing to do with his last quote the day before the election: “Beckham will put Barcelona among the best clubs in the world”. One year later, Lluis Bassat, Laporta’s rival in the presidential elections, told that “he used the Beckham effect to turn around the polls despite he had a ‘done deal’ with Real Madrid”.

Cruyff advised signing Aimar

Is spite of failing to sign Beckham and after winning the election, Laporta and Rosell still had a club to run. They had a tough job ahead of them, since Barcelona didn’t even qualify for the Champions League and the fans were depressed, especially after Real announced Beckham’s addition. “Cruyff advised a triple signing of Aimar, Albelda and Ayala and we bought Ronaldinho, Deco and Marquez”, explained the Vice-President Sandro Rosell in 2013. Ronaldinho helped Barcelona to win back to back LaLiga trophies and the Champions League after a fourteen year drought. “It would have been different with Beckham”, Laporta acknowledged.

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