Carles Puyol admits he prefers Lionel Messi's softly-softly approach to diplomacy at Barcelona over the blunt style of Gerard Pique.

Long-serving defender Pique recently hit out when he blamed the demands of Barca's pre-season travels for the poor start to their LaLiga title defence.

He also suggested the Barcelona board may have been planting stories in the media that were critical of players.

Messi, by contrast, rarely speaks out, and former Barcelona captain Puyol indicated he would follow the superstar forward's lead when it comes to handling club issues.

"You have to respect Gerard," Puyol told reporters on Saturday. "We all know him, we know he says what he thinks, he goes straight...

"I liked to talk the same as Messi, so would have acted just like him."

Puyol also clarified his decision to turn down the sporting director post at Barcelona, explaining he was too busy to take on the responsibility.

"I think the statement was very clear, you can't interpret much more," he said.

"I am at a time when I develop new projects, the next one will come out in a few days and will be related to the Danone Nations Cup, with football and values, an online programme designed for fathers and mothers who want to share time with their children.

"I have many more. I had been working on them for many months and I don't think it's time to leave them. It was not the time to join Barca."

Puyol's former team-mate Victor Valdes was sacked as coach of the Barcelona Under-19 side this month, the ex-goalkeeper having reportedly clashed with La Masia head Patrick Kluivert.

"Victor still doesn't have much experience as a coach," Puyol said. "Last season he did very well and has a lot of knowledge about soccer to teach children.

"I do not know the reasons for what happened, I am not in the club, but I know that he will have a good career as a coach and that he will train great players.

"Youth football is not easy. Many times you look more at the results and you also have to think about the development and training of the children."

Carles Puyol has turned down an offer to become Barcelona's sporting director.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed earlier in September that LaLiga giants Barca were in talks with Puyol over the former Spain defender taking up a position at Camp Nou.

Puyol played 593 matches in all competitions for Barcelona, while making 100 appearances for Spain, winning the 2008 Euros and 2010 World Cup.

He retired at the end of the 2013-14 season, having spent his entire club career with Barca.

However, the 41-year-old declined the chance to return to the club in a director capacity, stating personal commitments would prevent him being able to give his all to the job.

"In recent weeks, different news about my possible incorporation at Barcelona as sporting director has been published," Puyol tweeted.

"That is why I feel obliged to communicate to the whole family that, after weighing [the offer] up a lot, I have decided not to accept the club's offer.

"It wasn't an easy decision, given that I have always said that I would like to return to what I consider my home, but different personal projects in which I find myself immersed in impede me at this moment from giving the exclusive dedication that the post deserves.

"I would like to thank the club for the trust placed in me by offering me this position of so much responsibility."

The sporting director role has been vacant since Pep Segura relinquished his duties in July.

Barcelona's iconic defender Carles Puyol is the toughest opponent Roberto Soldado has gone up against during his time in LaLiga.

Former Valencia and Tottenham striker Soldado sealed a return to Spain's top flight in July, signing with newly promoted Granada following two seasons at Fenerbahce.

Soldado came through the ranks at Real Madrid, spending time at Osasuna and Getafe before excelling for Valencia, later joining Villarreal after a difficult two-season spell at Spurs.

The 34-year-old singled out Barca and Spain great Puyol, who retired in 2014, as the most difficult match-up he has faced – even going so far as to describe their contests as a “war”.

"I would say Puyol is the one who has made me suffer the most," Soldado said, courtesy of LaLiga.

"I think it was like war with Puyol. He was the most aggressive defender there was, the most heavy-handed.

"Then he was the one who complained the most. But, yes, there was a nice rivalry there and maybe he's the one who has given me the toughest battles."

Though Soldado struggled to find form at Tottenham, scoring just seven Premier League goals for the capital club, he believes his time in the England was crucial in making him a more rounded forward.

"With the passing of the years, my spell in England changed the way I played," Soldado said.

"Before maybe I was a player who waited a lot in the box, who didn't get involved so much and now maybe, after going to England, you change that a little.

"I got more involved. But I know [Granada] have signed me to score goals and I'm going to do everything I can to score as many as possible.

"I'm delighted to be back in the best league, especially after two years in an inferior league to this one.

"The first two weeks I was here I did find it a little hard to keep up with the pace of training. The pace of training is higher here than in Turkey. But I think I've adapted well, I think I'm going to perform at a high level and I'm going to give everything I've got for my team."

Soldado also revealed some strict pre-match superstitions.

"I always start to get change with my right side, I step onto the pitch with my right foot, I jump twice before going on," he said.

"They're habits or obsessions that make you feel confident when you do them, even if they don't make a difference."

Barcelona should ignore what happened with Neymar in the past as they potentially look to sign the Paris Saint-Germain forward, according to Carles Puyol.

Neymar, 27, is set to leave the Parc des Princes this close season after sporting director Leonardo confirmed the star was for sale at the right price.

The Brazil international left Barca in a world-record €222million move two years ago, but he is strongly linked with a return to Camp Nou.

Former Barcelona captain Puyol, who won 18 trophies with the club, said the past should have no impact on the LaLiga champions' decision.

"In the end, you have to value the present, not so much the past," he said on Monday, via Spanish media.

"If the player is on the market and you need him, you don't have to be thinking about what happened a few years ago."

Neymar has still starred in two seasons with PSG, but both campaigns have been hampered by injuries.

However, Puyol believes the star forward can still deliver plenty for Barcelona.

"Neymar is a great player who can make a difference," he said.

"He's not been able to play his best football [at PSG] because of injuries, but he still has a lot to give to football."

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