Spanish La Liga giant Barcelona have fired the director of training and education at Camp Nou, Pere Gratacos, after making derogatory comments about star footballer Lionel Messi.
Messi was instrumental to Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Athletico Bibao in the second leg of their round-of-16 fixture on Thursday, where he scored the last goal through a superb free kick.
But Gratacos, after the Copa del Rey quarter-final draw on Friday, suggested the Argentine would not be as good without his team-mates.
“Messi is not as good without team-mates,” said Gratacos
“Barcelona are not here only because of Messi,” he said at the draw for the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.
“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,” added Gratacos, who is also a key figure in the running of the famous La Masia youth system.
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Barca took the swift action following his remarks, stressing that they “do not coincide with those of the club”, according to a statement released by the Catalans on Friday.
Although Gratacos has been relieved of his job as director, he will continue in his capacity overseeing the ‘Masia 360’ project.
And about the speculations in some quarters that Messi could be leaving Barcelona this January, Barca boss Luiz Enrique, while addressing the media prior to Saturday’s home game with Las Palmas, was quoted to have said:
“I am not going to get into this game. Everything is skewed. People try to get a story out of Messi but the club has been pretty clear about what it thinks about Lionel Messi. We shouldn’t be looking at quotes from people and trying to make a story out of them.”
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