They will forever be remembered as part of the greatest Barcelona team of all time, and one that eliminated Chelsea on their way to the 2006 Champions League title but Deco's love affair with the former European champions is well and truly over. On his official introduction as a Chelsea player, the Portuguese midfielder said that he and Ronaldinho had to leave the Nou Camp to get their careers back on track.
The 30-year-old had a reputation for being outspoken at Barcelona and, while he studiously ignored the politics and schisms at his new club, he was more than happy to take his former employers to task. Having admitted that there were problems at the club in his last season there, he attacked Barcelona for their treatment of Ronaldinho and said that the Brazilian deserved much better from his new club Milan.
Deco may have a Portuguese passport but he was born Brazilian, and that was in evidence when he defended his friend and erstwhile team-mate. "I'm very happy that Ronnie [Ronaldinho] has found the best solution for himself. I have got to say that they were very unfair on him at Barcelona. In my opinion he is the best player that Barcelona have ever had. I just hope that his new club will give him the conditions that he needs on and off the pitch to be the best."
With a pragmatism that will serve him well at his new club, Deco said that he and Ronaldinho had been the obvious scapegoats at Barcelona when, having won the Champions League, they lost the title to Real Madrid in both of the past two seasons. Asked whether the stories about indiscipline and leisurely 6pm training sessions at Barcelona were true he said that "not all of it" was. Chelsea, however, he had found very different.
"We have training in the morning and the afternoon and we spend the time between then together as we recover. It helps me to get to know my team-mates better. The mentality here is different. But what you mentioned before is not the only reason I came to Chelsea. This club is perfect for me. They want to win titles and improve. It was the best place for me to come."
The Internazionale president Massimo Moratti said yesterday that he had Frank Lampard's approval for a transfer but was just waiting for Chelsea to agree to a fee for the player although there is not thought to be an imminent end likely to one of the summer's longest running recent transfer sagas. The new bid, if it comes, is thought to be around pnds11m although whether it arrives before Chelsea leave on their tour of the Far East this weekend is debatable. "For the acquisition of Lampard we need to have patience," Moratti said. "We have the player's approval but we have to respect Chelsea's rights. His club have every right to keep him."
The obvious question come the start of the season will be how Luiz Felipe Scolari, who made only a fleeting appearance with Deco yesterday, will shoehorn his new his new signing, Michael Ballack, Claude Makelele Michael Essien and even Frank Lampard, if he stays, into the starting XI. Deco stuck manfully to the line that he wanted Lampard to stay but he must be hoping that the England man makes life easier for everyone and disappears to Internazionale this summer.
Given that Deco, 31 next month, has settled for a two year deal it shows that Lampard, 30 last month, was really pushing his luck when he asked for a five year deal rather than four years on offer. Deco said that he did not fear the competition in the squad although given the current numbers it is impossible to see how Scolari will be able to keep all of his star names happy even if he attempts to rotate them.
"I truly believe at Chelsea we have a lot of quality," Deco said. "We have enough to win the Champions League and the Premier League again and Scolari will do everything he can. During training he's hard, he will always take work seriously and doesn't want joking but he's a very friendly guy and very affectionate."