‘It’s outrageous – and these people are still working at the club’: Gerard Pique rips into Barcelona’s board over their handling of the Lionel Messi saga – and says he has his team-mates backing in row with bosses over player pay-cuts
- Barcelona captain Lionel Messi handed in a transfer request via burofax this year
- Gerard Pique has slammed the Catalans for their handling of the Messi saga
- Pique has also defended his new contract at the club with a 50 per cent wage cut
- The defender signed a contract as Barca players claimed they will not sign deals
- The 33-year-old maintains the Barcelona dressing room is still united at present
Messi shocked the world when he handed in a transfer request to the LaLiga club via burofax in August, citing poor leadership from the Barcelona board as one of many reasons why he wanted to leave the Camp Nou.
While the Argentinian forward ultimately decided to stay at Barcelona, Spanish defender Pique – who came through the club’s La Masia academy alongside Messi – revealed had a conversation with the 33-year-old about his future.
Gerard Pique (left) claimed he helped convince Lionel Messi (right) to stay at Barcelona
The Barcelona captain (above) stunned the world by putting in a transfer request this summer
Pique told La Vanguardia, as quoted by Marca: ‘As president I would have acted differently. I asked Leo to stay on.
‘I didn’t have much dealings with him those days because I thought it was a very personal decision. I only said: “Leo, it’s a year, and then new people will come.’
‘I asked myself: How can it be that the best player in history, who we have had the incredible luck to enjoy, gets up one day and sends a burofax because he feels that they are not listening to him? Everything is too shocking. What’s going on?
‘Leo deserves everything. The new stadium and its sponsor should have his name (on it).’
Pique (left) slammed Barcelona’s treatment of Messi (middle) during the tumultuous summer
In an interview with Goal in September, Messi publicly criticised Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu over failed promises made about the team. The 57-year-old Barca chief has since announced he will not go for re-election in 2021.
Though Pique has himself been in his own off-the-pitch controversy at the Camp Nou recently as he signed a new contract at the club with a 50 per cent wage cut.
According to reports in Spain, Bartomeu wants to cut 25 per cent of the club’s wage bill in his final few months as president in order to help Barcelona get through the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Pique claims the dressing room is still happy despite controversy over his new Barca contract
The defender was one of four first-team players to sign a new contract with a wage cut in
Several Barcelona players signed a letter saying they will not negotiate with the current board over new contract, though Pique still went ahead and signed the new four-year deal until 2024.
Marc Andre-Ter Stegen, Clement Lenglet and Frenkie De Jong also penned long-term deals at the Camp Nou this week.
Pique, who is one of the four captains at Barcelona, said the dressing room is still together and that there are no issues with his new contract.
The 33-year-old added: ‘As captain I defended the interests of the team and I made the decision to sign it. And here we are a united dressing room.
Some Barcelona players maintained they would not negotiate with the board but Pique did
‘Then they said that the dressing room has been broken and I don’t know why. They said it when many players were with their national teams. In a personal capacity, each player is free to accept the club’s proposal voluntarily.
‘The club communicated to me and other players that due to the pandemic the club will suffer a lot financially and in that situation Barça is worse than anyone.
‘Barça has given me everything, so I put myself at their disposal. They told me that all the money I can give up this year will be collected in the future. We did the numbers and I proposed an amount.’
Pique (left) and Messi (right) came through Barcelona’s La Masia academy at the same time
Pique first joined the club when he was ten years old though left the Camp Nou as a teenager to join Manchester United in 2004.
After four years in the Premier League, the defender rejoined Barcelona in 2008 and is closing in on 550 appearances for the Spanish club.
Pique has won eight LaLiga titles and three Champions League trophies during his career with the Catalans.