Barcelona fires staffer after Lionel Messi remarks

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Barcelona has taken action against an executive who made comments about superstar Lionel Messi on Friday.

Messi’s future at Barcelona is under a microscope thanks to a La Liga salary cap. With Neymar and Luis Suarez both signing big-money extensions, the club is trying to scale down Messi’s contract extension to stay under the 70% wage bill cap.

When asked about Messi’s contract situation at the Copa del Rey draw on Friday morning, Pere Gratacos, the club’s director of institutional relations with the Spanish federation, said, “Leo is one of the most important people in the team, but it’s not just about him. He would not be as good without [Andres] Iniesta, Neymar and company, but Messi is the best.”

Apparently, suggesting Messi’s teammates make him better is a fireable offense. Barcelona announced that Gratacos was removed from his position, although he will still work in his other position at the club as an executive with the La Masia 360 project.

“Pere Gratacos has been dismissed from his role as director of institutional relations for having publicly expressed a personal opinion that does not coincide with that of the club after the draw for the quarterfinal of the Copa del Rey,” Barcelona said in a statement. “The decision was made by Albert Soler, who will take on these responsibilities directly from now on. Pere Gratacos will continue to be linked to Barcelona by working on the La Masia 360 project which is already underway.”