Report: Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique Have Had 'Complete Breakdown' in Relationship

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2018

LEGANES, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 26:  Leo Messi (R) of FC Barcelona speaks with Gerard Pique of FC Barcelona prior to the La Liga match between CD Leganes and FC Barcelona at Estadio Municipal de Butarque on September 26, 2018 in Leganes, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique have reportedly had a "complete breakdown" in their relationship after clashing over a run of poor results. 

According to Spanish TV show "El Chiringuito de Jugones" (h/t AS), "Pique is critical of Messi for not facing up [to the press] when the going gets tough. He feels that Leo only talks when he's not in Europe, with Argentina."

Meanwhile, Messi "has told him that they're letting in too many goals. He has made it apparent to Pique that [he thinks] the defence is not offering the protection it should."

Barcelona are winless in three matches in La Liga after drawing with Girona and Athletic Bilbao either side of a defeat to Leganes.

Messi, who was named club captain after Andres Iniesta departed in the summer, was vocal after the most recent of those and called on his team-mates to step up after the Athletic stalemate.

The Argentinian was asked if Barcelona rely too much on him and told beIN Sports (h/t Marca, via ESPN's Sam Marsden): "We have the squad and the players to be a great team, to be a strong team and not depend on anyone. This is Barca. We have enough players, we don't need to depend on one."

Per Marsden, Luis Suarez echoed his sentiment, adding that the team should not have to "depend on Leo coming on to sort things out" in matches they should be capable of winning without him.

Barca's defence has been poor in recent matches, having failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five La Liga outings, and Pique has been particularly culpable.

Football journalist Rik Sharma and Grup 14's Rafael Hernandez are among those who have been critical of the Spaniard:

Messi may have shared concerns with Pique about his performances and the solidity of the back line, too.

Even for a team of Barca's firepower, it will be difficult for them to achieve their ambitions this year if they remain so open in defence.

They'll need to improve quickly given the fixtures they have coming up:

Messi and Pique came up through Barca's La Masia academy together before the latter's move to Manchester United.

They've won seven La Liga titles together since Pique's return as well as the UEFA Champions League three times among plenty of other honours.

As a result, the pair likely feel they can be honest with one another during difficult spells, but if they're having differences they'll need to put any issues behind them to help Barca return to form.

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