Trouble at the Nou Camp? Puyol leaves as Barca sack director
Are Barcelona falling apart?
Trouble is certainly brewing at the Nou Camp after the struggling giants fired sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, prompting his assistant Carles Puyol to leave the club he has been at since 1995 as well.
The news came after Barca suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to David Moyes' Real Sociedad on Monday morning (Singapore time), preventing the Catalans from taking La Liga's top spot from leader Real Madrid.
While no official reason has been given for Zubizarreta's dismissal, the former Barca goalkeeper is believed to have been under-fire for the club's bungles in the transfer market.
Summer signing Douglas Pereira has started just one league match for Barca while Thomas Vermaelen has yet to make his debut since his move from Arsenal.
Compounding matters is a one-year transfer ban implemented by Fifa over the signing of underaged players - a situation that Zubizarreta has assumed responsibility for.
Shortly after Zubizarreta's departure was confirmed, club legend Puyol announced that would also be leaving his role as part of Barcelona's sports management team.
The former defender retired after the 2013/14 season and was subsequently placed under Zubizarreta's wing.
In a statement released on Facebook, Puyol did not rule out a return to Barca in the future as he said: "I now want to experience other things from another perspective and from elsewhere.
"I hope to grow both personally and professionally so that, in the future, I can return to this house and give back everything that you have undoubtebly given me during these unforgettable years."
Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu is set to appear before the media on Wednesday (Jan 7) to explain Zubizarreta's sacking.
The club's troubles have also apparently found their way onto the playing field as well with several media outlets like Marca reporting mounting tensions between head coach Luis Enrique and Lionel Messi.
The Argentine superstar reportedly came down with gastroenteritis, forcing him to miss the training session after Barca's shock defeat to Sociedad.
But Messi's absence has been interpreted as sign that a rift between him and Enrique is festering amid reports that the former AS Roma boss has lost the dressing room at the Nou Camp.
Despite hanging on to second place and just one point behind Real Madrid, it isn't shaping up to be a better second half of the season Barca fans have been wishing for.
Sources: AFP, Marca