Spanish champions Barcelona have sacked one of their officials Pere Gratacos after he said the Argentine star would not be as good without his teammates.

Gratacos was the head of Sports Institutional Relations with the Royal Spanish Football Federation. He condemned Messi after the team’s Copa del Rey draw.

A statement credited to him reads: “Leo is one of the most important people in the team, but it’s not just about him. He would not be as good without [Andres] Iniesta, Neymar and company, but Messi is the best.”

Though many have said the statement was not that bad, the club decided to remove the official for the ill-timed comments particularly when the team has been under pressure of late.

Coach of the side Luis Enrique downplayed the comments when asked but he was sure to speak against such undue pressure from an insider to the management for them to have decided to sack Gratacos. Gratacos would remain with the Catalan outfit for the Masia 360 project but it would be in a reduced capacity as the club tries to manage lots of influences with the club at the moment.

The comment of Gratacos adds to those attributed to the club chief executive who wants Messi to be more realistic with his contract demands. He said he wanted the best players to remain with the club, with those from La Masia retiring at Nou Camp but there was this undertone that hinted that the Argentine was asking for a lot considering the current situation.

Messi and his Barcelona teammates recently made the headlines on another bad note when they opted to stay away from the inaugural FIFA Best Player Award ceremony. The team’s official excuse was that the focus was on their Copa del Rey game against Athletic Bilbao but it was likely because he was widely expected to lose to his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu represented the club, alongside some directors.