BARCELONA bosses are set for crunch talks with Gerard Pique as the La Liga giants look to overcome a tough start to the season.
A key dressing room figure, defender Pique often discusses the state of the club with president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
2 Barcelona are underperforming on the pitch amid the tensionCredit: Getty – Contributor
But ESPN understand their upcoming talks will cover comments made by the player that appeared to criticise the Camp Nou chiefs.
Pique stated "we have to keep the club united… otherwise we will cause each other harm" in response to a comment piece in the Catalan press that condemned player influence across the club.
There is a suspicion that board members were behind the article in the Barca-supporting Mundo Deportivo newspaper.
But it was just the latest incident to raise tension between the squad and club.
A documentary detailing Antoine Griezmann's decision to snub the Catalans in 2018 was produced by Pique's company, angering bosses even though the Frenchman eventually signed anyway.
That capture wasn't enough for some, Barcelona's inability to land Neymar in the summer caused much consternation in the dressing room – which has been multiplied by disappointing results to start the campaign.
Losses to Athletic Club and Granada sent the Azulgrana tumbling down the table although their decline has been reversed somewhat by wins over Villarreal and Getafe.
An on-pitch reprieve will only fix the fractured relationship across the club so much though, with the overall direction of the club still up for debate.
Pique is very confident in his opinions and one day wants to run for Barca president.
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As such, he was reportedly instrumental in bringing Japanese retailer Rakuten on board as shirt sponsor but less keen on heading to both Japan and the United States in pre-season.
One dressing room ally key to the defender's hopes of wrestling control is Lionel Messi, who stated to Sport earlier this month: “I want to stay here if I can stay in good shape, play well, feel important and if I see we have a winning project.”
That last remark counted as a warning shot to the Barca board and any internal strife that leads to the Argentine leaving risks tearing the club apart.