Captain Lionel Messi has admitted that he is "tired" of being made out to be a "problem" for Barcelona after teammate Antoine Griezmann's uncle recently suggested that the Argentina international has made life hard for his nephew since moving to Camp Nou last year.
"I am tired of always being the problem of everything inside the club," the 33-year-old said following a long flight back to Barcelona from South America after two draining World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru.
Emmanuel Lopes had said in a documentary about Griezmann on French channel M6 that he expected the 29-year-old to "struggle to succeed for the first six months but not for a year" before adding that "with Messi around… I know what goes on inside and it is not easy."
Lopes was also joined by Griezmann's former agent Eric Olhats in criticizing Messi and issued a scathing analysis of his former client's troubles in Catalonia.
"Antoine arrived at a club with serious problems where Messi controls everything," said Olhats to France Football. "He is both emperor and monarch and did not see Antoine's arrival with good eyes.
"Messi's attitude has been deplorable; he has made him feel it. I have always heard Antoine say that he had no problems with Messi but never the other way around. It is the regime of terror. Either you are with him or you are against him."
Messi's outburst strains an already fatigued relationship between player and club after the South American legend tried to leave over the summer only to be stopped legally because of an expired release clause in his contract that could have seen him leave for free.
Ronald Koeman has since taken over as coach but Barca continue to struggle on and off the pitch and Josep Maria Bartomeu recently resigned as president.
To make matters worse, the Blaugrana have been hit by tighter salary restrictions imposed by La Liga due to COVID-19 as they continue to be ravaged economically by the crisis.