While things appear all and well on the pitch at Barcelona, Gerard Pique has just reminded everyone that behind the curtains, anger and distrust reeks at the club. The defender, who remained quiet during the Camp Nou controversies as of late, has now given an interview in which he publicly slams president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board.
From Barcagate, the accusation that the Blaugrana paid a PR company to defame current and former players critical of Bartomeu's regime, to the recent Messi debacle; Pique said little to the public. In fact, except for revealing his readiness to make way for younger players if needed, the 2010 World Cup winner has been relatively silent since the historic 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
However, that has now come to an end. The 33-year-old gave an interview to Catalan daily La Vanguardia in which he discussed an array of topics. The center-back stated that he has a friendly relationship with Bartomeu but then went on to blast him for the IV3 Ventures controversy, saying: "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 criticizing not only people with a historical relationship with the club, but active players – and that is barbaric."
Pique, who has shared the dressing with Messi for many years, felt that the club made a huge mess of the Leo situation. The Argentine icon handed in a transfer request in a bid to leave but was forced to stay after a headline-grabbing saga. Poor management and the lack of a sporting project forced the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to the brink of an exit but the higher-ups refused to facilitate a transfer. The defender revealed his words of advice to Leo before admitting his objection to the way things were handled.
"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."
The long-serving Barcelona player also slammed the board over the recent wage reduction negotiations while also criticizing the sacking of Valverde last season. What makes all of this more interesting is the timing as Pique's words come right before El Clasico.
The Catalan giants take on a Blancos side struggling for form but will need a united performance in order to beat the defending champions. Koeman lost his first game last weekend, falling 1-0 to Getafe, but the club have bounced back since, winning 5-1 in the UEFA Champions League.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid Broadcast Information
Stadium: Camp Nou (Barcelona)
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