The Hard Tackle brings to you all the news from the last 24 hours regarding  Barcelona.

Director sacked after Messi comments

Barcelona director Pere Graticos was released by the club on Friday  after his scathing comments regarding Lionel Messi. The negative comments were seemingly a by-product of a lengthy contract stand-off between the Argentine and the club.

A former Barcelona B player himself, Gratacos following the Copa Del Rey came out and stated that Messi wouldn’t be as good if not for his team-mates. He was quoted as saying,”Messi would not be as good without Iniesta, Neymar and co,” Gratacós said, according to the Spanish website Sport. “He’s the best, this is true.”

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts after missing an attempt on goal during the Spanish league football match Villarreal CF vs FC Barcelona at El Madrigal stadium in Vila-real on January 8, 2017. / AFP / JOSE JORDAN (Photo credit should read JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts after missing an attempt on goal during the Spanish league football match Villarreal CF vs FC Barcelona at El Madrigal stadium in Vila-real on January 8, 2017. / AFP / JOSE JORDAN (Photo credit should read JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The club said in a statement, “FC Barcelona have dismissed Pere Gratacós as head of institutional sporting relations with the Royal Spanish Football Federation for having publicly expressed a personal opinion that does not match that of the club after the draw for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey held today in Madrid.

“The decision has been taken by Albert Soler, director of professional sports, who will assume these functions directly from now on.”

The midfielder has featured in the Copa del Rey, but he has not played in the league for Barcelona since he was replaced against Real Madrid over a month ago, missing three consecutive games.

Rakitic has played more minutes than any other midfielder apart from Sergio Busquets this season, but he has not been the automatic first choice like he was in the past. André Gomes, Denis Suárez and Rafinha have competed for his place.

SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 06: Ivan Rakitic of FC Barcelona looks on during the match between Sevilla FC vs FC Barcelona as part of La Liga at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

SEVILLE, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 06: Ivan Rakitic of FC Barcelona looks on during the match between Sevilla FC vs FC Barcelona as part of La Liga at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

A niggling ankle injury and a dip in form, plus Luis Enrique’s experimentation in the right-sided midfield role, have led to suggestions that he will depart for Manchester City, who have grown increasingly interested with the player in recent months.

That said,  there is no imminent departure expected and it is certainly not related to negotiations over a contract extension as his current deal expires in 2019.

The Barcelona coach, Luis Enrique, said that his absence was “nothing to do” with his future. “Not even 25% of reports are reliable, whether they are from Croatia, Spain or England,” he said.

“Neymar the future”, says Paul Pogba

With Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi not far from the twilight of their careers, many are beginning to take their picks on who will replace the duo as one among the best players in the world. Paul Pogba is himself being tipped by many to become one but the Frenchman has tipped Neymar instead.

“The future you can see Neymar, he’s young,” Pogba told ESPN Brazil. “Neymar is the future. He’s the present and the future. A player who makes you enjoy. You know I’m a player, but when I look at him I see him enjoy his football.”

“This guy is the man because of his skills, it’s like he’s dancing. He’s scoring goals, he’s assisting — he plays for himself, but he also plays for everyone.”

(From L) Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva, Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, Brazil and Real Madrid defender Marcelo, France and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, Spain and Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and Brazil and FC Barcelona forward Neymar pose on stage after being selected in the 2015 FIFA FIFPro World XI during the 2015 FIFA Ballon d'Or award ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on January 11, 2016. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN / AFP / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Neymar is the future. (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The 23-year-old remained humble, saying that he doesn’t put himself in the category of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when asked which young players would earn the top awards in the future.

“No I don’t put myself up there. I just play. People say that about me, but I won’t say that about myself,” he said.

“The future you can see Neymar, he’s young. [Chelsea’s Eden] Hazard, [Borussia Dortmund’s Marco] Reus. So many young players who can replace them. You never know. But after a season you can get injured for 6, or 12 months. You never know what’s going to happen.”

 

 

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