Lionel Messi reversed his decision to push through a transfer away from Barcelona, saying he could never go to court against the club to secure a move; Real Madrid up next for Barcelona – follow El Clasico with our live blog on Saturday; Kick-off 3pm
Saturday 24 October 2020 10:15, UK
Gerard Pique says Barcelona owe Lionel Messi 'everything'
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.
Messi reversed his decision to leave Barcelona, saying he could never go to court against the club to secure a move
“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.”
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Lionel Messi stays at Barcelona: A timeline
Tuesday August 25 – Messi sends Barcelona an official document informing the club of his desire to leave and activate the ‘get-out’ clause in his contract that would see him leave for free.
Wednesday August 26 – Barcelona sporting director Ramon Planes says the club are “aiming to build the team around Messi” and want him to stay.
Friday August 28 – Messi requests a personal meeting with the Barcelona hierarchy and his lawyers to discuss a solution to his transfer request. He is spotted leaving a restaurant in Barcelona after a dinner with close friend Luis Suarez, also on his way out of the club.
Sunday August 30 – Messi does not turn up for Barcelona’s pre-season coronavirus testing. La Liga release a statement backing Barcelona’s stance on the dispute over his contract, stating he will only leave if his €700m release clause is paid in full.
Monday August 31 – Messi does not turn up for Barcelona’s first training session under new boss Ronald Koeman.
Wednesday September 2 – Messi’s father and agent Jorge flies into Barcelona from Rosario in Argentina for crunch talks with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board. He says it is “difficult” for his son to stay at the club.
Thursday September 3 – Talks between Jorge Messi and Bartomeu carry on into a second day.
Friday September 4 – Messi’s father insists the 700m Euro release clause is “not applicable at all” and releases a statement opposing La Liga’s verdict on the situation.
Friday September 4 Messi confirms he will remain with Barcelona for next season following talks with Bartomeu.
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,” Pique added.
“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.”