Lionel Messi tirade over Luis Suarez
Lionel Messi on Friday criticised the exit of teammate and good friend Luis Suárez, dealing another blow to the damaged relationship between the Argentine and Barcelona’s leadership.
Messi posted a photo of himself with Suárez on Instagram with a message expressing his sadness for his friend’s departure and his anger at how the club transferred him to Atlético Madrid.
“It is going to be so strange seeing you in another shirt, and even stranger to have to play against you,” Messi wrote. “You deserved a sending-off fit for what you are: One of the most important players in club history, both for what you did for the group and individually — not the one they gave you. But it is true that at this point nothing surprises me.”
Barcelona decided to overhaul their squad after the 2-8 humiliating loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last month. The 33-year-old Suárez was told by incoming coach Ronald Koeman that he was no longer wanted. Barcelona, hard hit financially by the pandemic, also needed to reduce their expenditures on salaries for their players.
Suárez bid farewell to Barcelona’s fans in an emotional news conference on Thursday. He leaves Camp Nou as the club’s third leading scorer with 198 goals.
“I was accepting the idea (of your departure), but not until I entered the changing room did I realise what it means,” Messi wrote.
“How difficult it is going to be not sharing each day with you, both on and off the field. We will miss you very much. These have been many years of many mates, lunches, dinners ... many things I won’t forget from all those days together.”
Barcelona transferred Suárez to Spanish league rivals Atlético Madrid for $7 million.
Messi had tried to leave the club he has been a part of for 20 years after the debacle against Bayern, but Barcelona replied that he must finish the final year of his contract.
Suárez also took Messi’s side in the dispute on Thursday when he said “I have to accept it if the club decides it is time that I go, just like the club should accept it if a player wants to leave.”
Messi, however, has already given up trying to leave this season. He has vowed to play his hardest for the team while he remains — even if he is even more disgruntled after Suárez’s departure.
Messi’s comments are the latest run-in between him and the club’s board. Club president Josep Bartomeu has called for elections in March, in which he cannot run again, but he is also facing a censure referendum that could oust him and his board in the coming weeks.