Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was not invited to a reunion dinner with Lionel Messi, amid reports of a breakdown in the relationship between the two former team-mates.
Messi left Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain in the summer but has endured a frustrating start to his new to life in France, scoring just once in his first 12 league appearances for the club.
The Argentina international returned to Barcelona on Monday for a highly-publicised dinner with some of his former team-mates, prompting speculation over a possible return to the Nou Camp.
Messi dined with Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and their families at a high-end Japanese restaurant in the city.
Coincidentally, Barcelona head coach Xavi was also at the restaurant, but was dining with a separate party ahead of his 42nd
But there was no place at the reunion for Pique, who has known Messi since they were teenagers playing alongside each other in Barcelona’s La Masia academy.
Reports in Spain claim the pair are no longer on the best of terms due to a dispute over last year’s contract negotiations at Barcelona.
— Miquel Blázquez (@BlazquezFont) January 24, 2022
Barcelona asked their senior players to take a pay cut last summer, with the Catalan club at risk of breaching La Liga’s financial fair play regulations.
Alba and Busquets both agreed to reduce their salaries in an attempt to help the cash-strapped club hold on to Messi and register new signings.
Pique had already agreed to a new contract at Barcelona in 2020 and would later accept a reduced salary in August, but only after Messi had already joined PSG.
Spanish newspaper Sport claims Pique was not invited to the dinner with Messi as a result.
Spanish journalist Lluis Canut claims Messi is ‘disappointed’ with Pique and feels ‘deceived’ by the defender for renewing his contract outside of the collective negotiations.
Canut said on Onze on TV3, per Sport: “The last contract renewal signed by Pique did a lot of damage to Messi and he felt disappointed.
“In part, he also felt deceived by Pique, because [he then didn’t further reduce his contract] until Messi left the club and Messi felt he should have done that earlier to try and avoid his exit.”
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