Gerard Pique has said Barcelona should name the redeveloped Camp Nou after Lionel Messi when it is finished and suggested the forward should have been allowed to leave in the summer if that is what he wanted.
Messi, 33, sent a burofax in August informing Barca of his desire to leave. President Josep Maria Bartomeu refused to let him go, though, and when Messi realised a legal battle was his only way out of the club — he argued a clause in his contract allowed him to leave for free he decided to stay.
Pique has revealed he sent Messi a message at the time pointing out that a new president and board of directors would be elected within a year. However, despite encouraging him to stay, the Barca defender said Messi had earned the right to decide his own future.
“I didn’t have much to do with Leo during that moment because it was a very personal decision,” Pique told La Vanguardia. “I remember one message I sent: ‘Leo, it’s one year, then new people will come in…’
“Leo has more than earned the right to make a decision and if he felt he should leave as president I would have acted differently. A player that has given so much in 16 years, you’re obliged to reach an agreement with him.
“[But] how can it be that the best player in history gets up one day and sends a burofax because he feels he’s not being listened to? What’s happening? Leo deserves the lot. The new stadium should be named after him.
“We have to preserve our figures, not discredit them. I am surprised people like Pep [Guardiola], [Carles] Puyol, Xavi [Hernandez] and [Victor] Valdes aren’t at the club. Something is not being done right.”
Pique’s interview provided the latest glimpse into the rift that exists between the players and the board at Camp Nou. He admitted his own relationship with Bartomeu is not great, said he would not have sacked Ernesto Valverde and was critical of plans to impose club-wide wage cuts to mitigate the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.