Barcelona director loses job over Lionel Messi comments
By Peter Gilbert
Last Updated: 14/01/17 7:46am
Barcelona have sacked a club official after he said Lionel Messi would not be the player he is without the club’s fellow big names.
Barcelona have sacked a club official after he said Lionel Messi would not be the player he is without the team's fellow big names.
Pere Gratacos, a former Barcelona B player, claimed following Friday's Copa del Rey draw that Messi had his team-mates to thank for his success on the pitch.
"Messi would not be as good without Iniesta, Neymar and co," Gratacos said, according to Spanish website Sport.
"He's the best, this is true."
Messi 'likely to sign a new deal'
Guillem Balague believes Lionel Messi will sign a new contract with Barcleona
Barca, who are hoping to tie the Argentina star to a new extended contract, reacted to Gratacos’ remarks by relieving him of his role as the club's head of sporting relations to the Spanish federation (RFEF).
Barcelona said Gratacos would still have an undefined position with the club academy.
The Catalan club said in a statement: "FC Barcelona have dismissed Pere Gratacos as head of institutional sporting relations with the Royal Spanish Football Federation for having publicly expressed a personal opinion that does not match that of the club after the draw for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey held today in Madrid.
"The decision has been taken by Albert Soler, director of professional sports, who will assume these functions directly from now on."
Barcelona's statement added that Gratacos would retain a link to the club through tasks with the Masia 360 project.
He has been head of training and education with Masia 360, the club's elaborate and highly successful academy system.
Argentinian Messi himself came through Barcelona's academy, and has since gone on to become the all-time record goalscorer in LaLiga and help the club win a stunning haul of trophies.
Half price Sky Sports
Upgrade to Sky Sports now and get 9 months half price. Hurry, offer ends January 16th!
He has been named the world's best player five times by FIFA, and at the age of 29 remains as influential as ever at Barcelona.
Messi's contract expires at the end of the 2017-18 season, and negotiations over a new deal are expected to soon begin.
There would be suitors in the world's richest leagues, including England and China, if Messi left Barcelona.
Barcelona are restricted by league limits on wage budgets, and club chief executive Oscar Grau this week indicated they may need to build their revenue streams to ensure star players remain at the Nou Camp.