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Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique have reportedly had a “complete breakdown” in their relationship after clashing over a run of poor results.

According to Spanish a TV show  “Pique 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.”

Meanwhile, Messi “has told him that they’re letting in too many goals. He has made it apparent to Pique that [he thinks] the defence is not offering the protection it should.”

Barcelona are winless in three matches in La Liga after drawing with Girona and Athletic Bilbao either side of a defeat to Leganes.

Messi, who was named club captain after Andres Iniesta departed in the summer, was vocal after the most recent of those and called on his team-mates to step up after the Athletic stalemate.

The Argentinian was asked if Barcelona rely too much on him and told beIN Sports (h/t Marca, via ESPN’s Sam Marsden): “We have the squad and the players to be a great team, to be a strong team and not depend on anyone. This is Barca. We have enough players, we don’t need to depend on one.”

Per Marsden, Luis Suarez echoed his sentiment, adding that the team should not have to “depend on Leo coming on to sort things out” in matches they should be capable of winning without him.

Barca’s defence has been poor in recent matches, having failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five La Liga outings, and Pique has been particularly culpable.

Football journalist Rik Sharma and Grup 14’s Rafael Hernandez are among those who have been critical of the Spaniard

Messi may have shared concerns with Pique about his performances and the solidity of the back line, too.

Even for a team of Barca’s firepower, it will be difficult for them to achieve their ambitions this year if they remain so open in defence.

They’ll need to improve quickly given the fixtures they have coming up

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