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'That is barbaric' - Pique furious over allegations Barcelona spent money criticising Messi

08:43 BST 24/10/2020
Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi, Josep Maria Bartomeu split
The Blaugrana have found themselves in disarray for some time under Josep Maria Bartomeu's watch and the defender has spoken out on some of the issues

Gerard Pique said the behaviour of Barcelona's hierarchy has been “barbaric” amid allegations they have spent money on criticising and discrediting their players through social networks, and says he would have handled Lionel Messi's burofax drama very differently if he was president of the club.

The Catalan club has found itself mired in controversy under the stewardship of president Josep Maria Bartomeu, with a multitude of on and off-field issues seeing many calling for the supremo to step down.

Among several other dramas, Pique addressed the topic of the club hiring of I3 Ventures, allegedly to clean up Bartomeu's image at the same time as attacking prominent figures associated with the club.

Club official Jaume Masferre was tasked to lead the project, which Bartomeu claimed was merely to monitor the club's social media activity, and Pique says that it “hurts” to see such a figure remain on the company's books after a short suspension.

“I don't want to get on badly with anyone but there have been times, like the issue of social networks. As a Barca player, I see that my club has spent money, money that went to criticising not only people with a historical relationship with the club, but active players – and that is barbaric,” the centre-back told La Vanguardia.

“I asked [Bartomeu] for an explanation and what he told me was: 'Gerard, I didn't know', and I believed it. Then, later, we see that the person in charge of hiring those services is still working at the club.

“That hurts me a lot. I can say that in public because I told the president personally before. What do you want me to say? It is painful? Yes. Can I do anything about it? Well, no. My relationship with the president may be cordial but there are things that have stayed the same.”

Abysmal transfer business, a lack of squad depth and the hiring and firing of a multitude of coaches have all been laid at the feet of Bartomeu, but the biggest drama was undoubtedly Messi making it known to the club that he wanted to leave at the end of last season.

“If I was president I would have acted differently,” Pique said of the Argentine's bombshell. “I asked Leo to hold on. I didn't have much dealings with him in those days because I thought it was a very personal decision. I do remember saying: 'Leo, it's just a year and then new people will come in'.

“I ask myself: How can it be that the best player in history, who we have the holy luck to enjoy, gets up one day and sends a burofax because he feels that they are not listening to him? It's shocking. What's going on? 

"Leo deserves everything. The stadium should have his name on it before any sponsor. We must protect our own, not discredit them.”

Pique added: “It surprises me that people like Pep [Guardiola], Puyi [CarlesPuyol], Xavi or [Victor] Valdes are not in the club. Something isn't being done well. You have to keep these people around, they are part of the club's history and have made it great. They should be here.”