Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says Lionel Messi was 'like a god' at the Catalan club and claims he cried when the Argentine attacker left for Paris Saint-Germain.
Pique and Messi were team-mates at Camp Nou as youth players and were reunited in the first team when the defender returned from Manchester United in 2008.
The pair were close for many years and spent 13 seasons together at Barcelona before Messi left for PSG in the summer of 2021.
"For Barcelona and the fans, Messi was like a god," Pique told The Overlap. "It would have been great if he stayed.
"Lionel Messi is the best player in the history of the game. Messi was Barcelona’s best player. I’ve always said that we had Messi to win titles, but we also had to have a good team. A single player cannot win titles."
Messi was in tears at a press conference last year and revealed he had wanted to stay at Barcelona, with the club's financial difficulties cited as the reason for his departure.
And Pique said: "I cried when Messi left Barcelona. I cried for him. For the career he had at Barça, it would have been great if he had stayed until the end of his career at the club.
"I can understand why Messi couldn’t renew. The club was suffering a lot economically because of the past president and how he managed the club.
"At the end of the day, these are things that happen in life. Sometimes you make a decision and things don’t work out."
However, Pique is believed to have told Barcelona president Joan Laporta that the club should let Messi leave due to the club's financial constraints, in order to rebuild the team, and a family friend of the Argentine hit out at the defender on Instagram.
"Gerard Pique (whose account he tagged), you're so false and arrogant that not only didn't you cry, but you also told the mediocre Joan Laporta (also tagged), that if he wanted to build a winning team, he had to sell Leo Messi," Alfonso Aguilera Rosique wrote.
"That same Messi who rescued you from Zaragoza (Pique was on loan there in 2006-07) when nobody wanted you because you held grudges, were jealous and a bad team-mate."
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Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.
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