Gerard Pique admits he “cried when Lionel Messi left Barcelona”, but one long-serving star can appreciate why another had to depart for Paris Saint-Germain.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner swapped life in Catalunya for the French capital during the summer of 2021 once it became apparent the Liga giants could not afford to offer him a new contract.
Tears flowed when the mercurial South American bid farewell to Barca, with fellow La Masia academy graduate Pique among those overcome by emotion as “the best player in the history of the game” severed his career-long ties with the Blaugrana.
Why did Messi’s Barcelona exit move Pique to tears?
Pique was a close friend of the Argentine superstar, who broke countless records during a memorable spell at Camp Nou.
Hetold Gary Neville on The Overlap of seeing an all-time great move on: “I cried when Messi left Barcelona. I cried for him. For the career he had at Barca, it would have been great if he had stayed until the end of his career at the club.
“I can understand why Messi couldn’t renew. The club was suffering a lot economically because of the past president and how he managed the club.
"At the end of the day, these are things that happen in life. Sometimes you make a decision and things don’t work out.
“For Barcelona and the fans Messi was like a God, it would have been great if he stayed.”
Pique added: “Lionel Messi is the best player in the history of the game.”
“Messi was Barcelona’s best player. I’ve always said that we had Messi to win titles, but we also had to have a good team. A single player cannot win titles.”
Who else has Pique been talking up?
Pique has also lavished praise on former Barca boss Pep Guardiola – who delivered three Liga titles and two Champions League crowns across four years as manager at Camp Nou.
Pique said of the coach now chasing major honours at Manchester City: “He is very clever and he understands the game as no-one I’ve seen before. He gives you all the tools to go to the game and be ready for any kind of situation.
“He studies very well the other team and from that he starts to tell you, you have to do this in this situation, you have to do that.”
“From that you feel very confident you will be ready for the game, no matter the challenge, no matter how difficult the striker you have to mark, the centre-back you have to face. And this is all because of him, mentally he’s very good, his speeches are very good.
“He touches your heart. I remember that talking, he used the right words every time to make you feel that in front of you, you have a very strong challenge but an opportunity to prove yourself to the world and that you can beat them.”