Barcelona star Javier Mascherano reportedly slammed teammate Neymar for his "selfish" attitude following Champions League elimination to Atletico Madrid, according to Catalunya Radio. Despite this, the Argentine defender has hailed the club's positive dressing room environment as the key to their performance this season, as they can now capture a league and cup double in their upcoming two games.
Neymar has been singled out in recent months as a key reason for Barcelona's dip in form during the second half of the season. The club were on course for the treble but were knocked out of the Champions League in the last eight, and have also thrown away a large advantage in La Liga to take the battle down to the final weekend.
Catalan publication La Vanguardia last month claimed club officials were unhappy with Neymar's "Brazilian" lifestyle off the pitch, amid concerns the former Santos star could follow in the footsteps of compatriots Ronaldinho, Romario and Ronaldo, who were all sold by the club after gaining reputations as bon vivants in love with the Barcelona nightlife.
Neymar did little to quieten his critics after being photographed leaving London nightclub Libertine following the PFA Awards after-party.
Barcelona chief Jordi Mestre was forced into making a statement to the club's official TV station, saying Barcelona are very happy with the Brazilian and have no plans to part ways with him.
However, journalist Javi Miguel, speaking on Catalunya Radio's 'El Club de la Mitjanit' programme, said that Neymar's current performances have been criticised by those inside the dressing room.
Miguel claims Mascherano, one of the four captains at the club, rebuked Neymar after the team were kicked out of the Champions League, saying: "Stop being so selfish, think more about the team."
The report of this spat coincided with an interview Mascherano himself gave to ESPN, where the player praised the atmosphere in the Barcelona dressing room during stressful moments.
"In those moments you can see who is who and how everyone acts. Thank God we have a great dressing room and even during the bad run we knew that we were going to move forward and turn things around. We did it in the last few games. Now we have the final La Liga game and the Copa del Rey final. I think if we get the two titles it would be a very good end to the campaign."
Barcelona responded to their mini-crisis with a string of four impressive La Liga victories that see them arrive to the last gameweek of the campaign as leaders, meaning victory at Granada will see them reclaim the title.
"We're a unit and we know it all depends on us, that it will be a tough game like the others we've had in the last few weeks," Mascherano added. "There will be no margin for error, and that means we'll try to go out in the best way possible to avoid any accidents."
"We know that it will be complex playing against a team who have nothing to play for, but we should be afforded more freedom and time."