Barcelona's Gerard Pique says he would "never" work for Real Madrid, speaking out against the values of people in charge of his club's chief rivals.
Talking to reporters in Paris following Spain's 2-0 win over France on Tuesday, Pique alleged someone at Real Madrid has been causing troubles for his Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar, possibly referring to the duo's recent legal troubles.
"I don't like the values Real Madrid transmit, although there are players there I really appreciate with and am friends with," Pique said. "I don't doubt Raul's loyalty to Madrid, but I'd never work at Real Madrid.
"What I don't like about Real Madrid is how those in the box seats pull the strings. The person who accused Messi and Neymar and who has a different treatment for Cristiano [Ronaldo] is in those box seats.
"I don't know the name of the judge. We aren't going to keep a [grievance] list like [Jose] Mourinho does. We know how this works. Like this one, there are others."
However, Pique, who played alongside many Madrid players in Tuesday's friendly, said his strong feelings do not extend to the players.
"I have no issues with the players," he said. "They are all my friends and I play cards with them."
Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos responded to the comments by saying that Barcelona are not so innocent by comparison.
"What Pique says won't change the values, our badge, our history or our titles," Ramos said. "What he says will provoke headlines and sell newspapers but we live off of that.
"In every box seat strings are pulled, but if anything, [Barcelona] should in general have more to be quiet about then we do."
Ramos also suggested that the Pique's reputation for stirring the pot deflated any impact of his criticism.
"The statements, if they came from [Andres] Iniesta, would annoy [Madrid]. From Pique? No," Ramos said. "That's part of Pique's character. We're not going to change him a the age of 30. We have to enjoy him as a great footballer."
Spain beat France with the aid of two calls from the video assistant referee, and Pique also joked that the officials looked more kindly on Spain because they were wearing Real Madrid's customary white.
Even Ramos said he had to smile at that particular theory.
"The dressing room laughed at that," Ramos said. "The white shirt looks better on him and he doesn't know how to react to that."