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Barcelona Director Pere Gratacos Sacked After Lionel Messi Comments

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2017

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 11:  Neymar JR (R) and Lionel Messi of Barcelona look on during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 Second Leg match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club at Camp Nou on January 11, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Barcelona have fired director Pere Gratacos following comments he made about star forward Lionel Messi after the draw for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. 

As Goal's Joe Wright reported, the director of training and education at Camp Nou reminded fans the Blaugrana are more than just Messi, and in the process, he said the Argentinian wouldn't be as great without his team-mates: "Barcelona are not here only because of Messi. He's very important but it was the team who won [against Athletic Bilbao in the last 16]. Without Neymar, Luis Suarez, [Andres] Iniesta, [Gerard] Pique and the others, he wouldn't be such a good player."

(L-R) Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona, Paco Alcacer of FC Barcelona, Arda Turan of FC Barcelona, Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona, Andreas Christensen of Borussia Monchengladbachduring the UEFA Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona and Borussia M
VI-Images/Getty Images

Those comments did not sit well with the Blaugrana, who promptly sacked Gratacos, saying his opinions "do not coincide with those of the club." Per sports writer Rafael Hernandez, Gratacos remains in charge of the La Masia 360 project.

When the news broke, opinions on Gratacos' comments and the club's actions varied wildly. ESPN FC's Samuel Marsden was shocked:

Samuel Marsden @samuelmarsden

Wow. Barcelona sack Pere Gratacos after Messi comments this morning.

Hernandez pointed out the interpretation of his comments led to plenty of confusion:

Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117

Part of Barça Twitter seemed to think Gratacós was misinterpreted, but club management clearly didn’t share their thoughts.

As Diario Sport (h/t Marsden) reported, the comments came just days after club CEO Oscar Grau said the Catalans had to apply "common sense" to contract negotiations with Messi, with plenty of fans and pundits suggesting it was a means of lowering the Argentina international's demands.

Sport's Rik Sharma thought Gratacos' dismissal may have had something to do with that:

Rik Sharma @riksharma_

Gratacos must be paying for Grau's comments too. https://t.co/trmworDTN9

It's a move that will sit well with some fans, and as Gratacos will continue his work with La Masia and elsewhere, its main purpose seems to be to send a clear signal to Messi. 

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