Gerard Pique tears into Barcelona over Lionel Messi saga on eve of clasico

Defender lets rip over club's handling of Argentine legend

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Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has torn into the club over their handling of the Lionel Messi contract situation, which resulted in the forward attempting to leave in the close-season.

The criticism comes on the eve of the first clasico against Real Madrid this season and days after the 33-year-old Pique signed a new three-year deal at Barca.

Club president Josep Bartomeu was the target of a scathing interview by Messi, who ultimately ended up staying at the Camp Nou, however the relationship between the two seems irreparable, something that has left Pique astounded.

"I ask myself: How can it be that the best-ever player to have played the game, who we have been lucky enough to enjoy, wakes up one day and sends a Burofax [recorded delivery mail] because he feels like he's not being listened to?" Pique told La Vanguardia newspaper.

"It's all too confrontational. What's going on? Messi deserves everything; the new stadium should be named after him first and then the sponsor. We should preserve our figureheads, not underappreciate them. It really gets to me."

The 33-year-old Spaniard kept his distance when the situation between Messi and the club emerged last summer. “I didn't have much contact with him at that time. It was a personal thing to him. I remember sending him a message: ‘It’s only been a year, then new people will come.’”

Pique also expressed his frustration that other club icons are not still connected with the club.

“I am surprised that people such as Josep Guardiola, Xavi, Carles Puyol and Víctor Valdes are no longer active for the club. You must always keep them. They are part of club history."


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The defender also addressed media reports that Bartomeu knew the club hired a social media agency to criticise the players earlier this year. Bartomeu has denied the allegations.

"I, as a Barca player, see that my club have spent money, money they're now asking us for [in salary reductions], to criticise us – and I'm not talking about criticising people outside the club, but current players – it's atrocious.

"I asked [Bartomeu] for an explanation and he said 'Gerard, I didn't know about it', and I believed him. But then you see that the person [Jaume Masferre, an adviser to Bartomeu] who was responsible for doing this is still working at the club. That hurts me a lot. And I'm saying that here because I've already said it to the president, too."

After a painful stand-off, Messi eventually decided he would stay on as he wanted to avoid a "legal war" with the club, but not without a stinging rebuke of Bartomeu .

"I wasn't happy and I wanted to leave. I have not been allowed this in any way and I will stay at the club so as not to get into a legal dispute," he said.

"The management of the club led by Bartomeu is a disaster.

"I told the club, the president in particular, that I wanted to leave. They knew this since the start of the past season. I told them during all [of the] last 12 months. But I will stay here because I don't want to start a legal war."