The Merengue are yet to achieve the same heights as when the brilliant striker was on their team – a fate Barca are yet to suffer with their talisman.

Pep Guardiola considers Barcelona are in line for a lean period similar to that endured by Real Madrid in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure when Lionel Messi eventually leaves Camp Nou.

The Argentine has played his entire professional career in Catalunya after leaving his native Rosario for Barcelona in his early teens.

“I think that if you talk about players, you should give names because otherwise, you’re tainting everyone’s name,” Leo fired on Instagram in response to an interview given by the Barca director in which he suggested certain unnamed individuals weren’t giving 100 percent.

Madrid already know what it’s like to lose an idol, suffering a barren 2018-19 year following Ronaldo’s move to Juventus having won three Champions Leagues in each of the Portuguese’s last three seasons.

And Pep, who knows Messi and Barca better than most after leading the club to glory as a coach, cautioned his former companies they have to steel themselves for the superstar’s possible exit.

“It is inevitable, these players are so important,” the Manchester City boss told Post United when quizzed on Madrid’s post-Cristiano difficulties.

“When Messi leaves Barca they will need some time to re-adjust. It’s inevitable.

“These men score 40 or 50 goals a season.”

Guardiola spent more than 20 years at Barcelona as a coach and player, a link that ended in 2012 with his resignation from the bench.

The past four seasons have gone down in club folklore, with Barca winning three La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues and a total of 14 decorations while broadly being tipped as one of the best sides ever to play the game.

But there is one game more than most that stand out to the gaffer: a 6-2 thrashing of Madrid in the Bernabeu in May 2009 in their way to the La Liga crown.

“When folks ask me about the title I’ve won that gets me most excited in my career as a manager, I state that it’s the first league I won with Barcelona,” he added.

“The first La Liga we won, we won it all there. This 2-6 came on the back of 12 victories in a row for them. They dropped the next four.

“We knew that if we lost that match with the team they had, it would have been hard. It was an excellent day.”