A Spanish television show has claimed that there has been a complete breakdown in the relationship between Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué after the pair clashed as a result of Barcelona's recent struggles on the pitch.
In their last three games, Barcelona have drawn twice and lost once, prompting serious questions about the team. Piqué has been the subject of immense criticism from fans, who feel that the Spaniard has been drastically underperforming as of late.
Spanish television show El Chiringuito de Jugones discussed the relationship between the two, and claimed that the two have clashed in recent weeks, leading to a "complete breakdown" in the relationship. According to Spanish outlet AS, the report said: "Piqué 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."
However, club captain Messi has also criticised the Spaniard, blaming Barcelona's poor run of form on their underperforming defenders. El Chringuito added: "He has told him that they're letting in too many goals.
"He has made it plain to Piqué that [he thinks] the defence is not offering the protection it should."
Despite their recent struggles, Barcelona still find themselves top of the La Liga table, level on points with fierce rivals Real Madrid. They began the season well, with four wins in as many games, but a 2-2 draw with Girona brought an end to their perfect start.
This result was followed up with a shock 2-1 defeat to minnows Leganes, and a 1-1 draw with a struggling Athletic Bilbao side only amplified the side's struggles.
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde opted to start the match with Messi on the bench, but was forced to introduce the Argentinian after Athletic took the lead. Unsurprisingly, Messi proved to be crucial for his side, helping them earn a draw. However, that has only increased the pressure on Valverde's side.