LIONEL MESSI was 'betrayed' by Gerard Pique during the summer, according to reports.
The Argentine, 34, was desperate to stay at Barcelona and was willing to accept a huge pay cut to remain with his boyhood club.
But long-time team-mate Gerard Pique, 34, reportedly told club president Joan Laporta that 'nothing bad would happen' if they let Messi go.
Director of Spanish newspaper Sport Lluis Mascaro told Radioestadio Noche: "Messi knows that Pique told Laporta that if Messi left [the club] nothing [bad] would happen."
Messi recently gave a wide-ranging interview to Sport, during which he was asked if he remains in contact with any of his former Barca pals.
And Pique's omission didn't go unnoticed.
He said: "Yes. I speak often with [Sergio] Kun Aguero, who was not a team-mate but is a great friend. [And I also speak] with Busi [Sergio Busquets], [and] with Jordi Alba often [too]."
Mascaro's colleague Toni Juanmarti added: "I do not know where or when, but surely the [number] '3' (Pique) will want to give his version [of the story]."
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Pique did recently admit that Barca are struggling without Messi.
He said: "You could have never imagined that he would leave. But, of course. It’s difficult when the best player in the history of the club leaves.
"Madrid, when Cristiano left, also went through a time when they couldn’t score a goal against a rainbow.
“So have we. We’ve lived with Leo for many years, but now we have to find new references. The problem is that Leo gave you everything. Leo did everything. You have to find players who give you what only he could give you.”
Addressing his exit further, Messi admitted that he was hurt by Laporta's admission that he hoped his No10 would play for free.
He said: "The truth is that, as I explained on my way out, I did everything possible to stay. Never at any time was I asked to play for free."
They hurt me because I think he doesn't need to say that
"I was asked to cut my salary by 50 per cent and I did it without any problem. We were in a position to help the club more. The desire of me and my family was to stay in Barcelona.
"Nobody asked me to play for free but at the same time, it seems to me that the words said by the president are out of place.
"They hurt me because I think he doesn't need to say that, it's like getting the ball off you and not assuming its consequences, or taking charge of things.
"This makes people think or generates a type of doubt that I think I do not deserve."
Messi retains his love for Barcelona, and admitted that he would like to return one day as technical secretary when he finishes playing for PSG.
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