Stoichkov: Barcelona Must Pamper Messi


The Bulgarian claims the club are “in chaos” and says they must do everything in their power to make the Argentina forward feel happy at Camp Nou

Former Barcelona star Hristo Stoichkov has criticised the club for their treatment of Lionel Messi and warned the Argentina international could leave if he is not “protected and pampered”.

The 27-year-old has endured a frosty relationship with the club’s board in recent months and was kept out of the starting line-up for the defeat to Real Sociedad on Sunday by coach Luis Enrique after being granted an extended Christmas break.

Stoichkov believes the club must do their utmost to make the player feel at home again at Camp Nou in order to keep him until the end of his career.

“The problems Messi has encountered all came from within the club. There’s been talks about fines, contract talks, advertising issues…” Stoichkov told Onda Cero.

“You have to protect and pamper the best player in the world. Messi should finish his career at Barcelona and nowhere else. The club should look after him and pamper him.

“Tell me the name of one foreign player who did not leave the club through the back door in the end…”

Barcelona fired sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta on Monday after he criticised president Josep Maria Bartomeu in the wake of their transfer ban being upheld with Carles Puyol, next in line behind Zubizarreta, quitting shortly after.

And Stoichkov, who feels the Catalans are “in chaos”, is concerned that the identity and philosophy of the club are under real threat.

“I think Barcelona are in chaos at the moment. Everything’s been turned upside down,” he added.

“They could return to the days of Louis van Gaal, where they won the title, but only 13,000 people came to the stadium. Barcelona are going down that road again.

“Barcelona are following the same path they followed under [Joan] Gaspart. They spent millions and millions on players who are worthless and not even 20,000 fans showed up. This could very well happen again.”