MADRID (Reuters) - 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 two days after the 33-year-old Pique signed a new three-year deal at Barca, with a vote of no confidence against the board also imminent.
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 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 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.”
Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli; Editing by Toby Davis
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