After the departure of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique has taken a more pronounced leadership role in FC Barcelona. He is not holding back in his criticism of former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, whom he believes to be one of the worst presidents that the club has ever had.

"I can't say if he is the worst. From what I have lived, he must be [up] there," said Pique, during an appearance on comedy programmme "La Sotana."

While stating that Bartomeu was probably not the absolute worst of them all, he is certainly in that list. "We are all guilty, but it is true that the club have not gone where all the Catalans want," he added, before focusing on what's in store for the future.

"Now I am hopeful and excited. The next five or ten years will be very good for Barcelona."

It may be remembered that Bartomeu was forced to resign last year, after facing massive criticism for the way he allowed the club to get buried under over 1.3 billion euros of debt. His presidency also faced a number of other scandals, including a row with players over a smear campaign.

Joan Laporta took over after winning the elections in March, but he was not able to successfully keep Lionel Messi in the squad. The club was simply in too much financial trouble to be able to afford the Argentine.

Pique himself needed to agree to a salary deduction and a contract revision in order to help the club. "I have given up part of the salary. My contract was ending this year but if I played X number of games it would be renewed under the same conditions as this year," he confirmed, as quoted by Marca.

Now, Laporta has left manager Ronald Koeman with the monumental task of rebuilding the club without having a free hand on player selection. The Dutchman was not able to make major decisions when it comes to spending over the summer transfer window, and he is also now forced to work with the players that are in his roster mostly thanks to the fact that they are the ones that fit within the salary cap.

"Joan [Laporta] needed more time for reflection and ended up choosing Koeman. Now he is the ideal coach," said Pique, giving his full confidence behind his manager.

Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu
Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu Photo: AFP / Josep LAGO