'I've tried to be honest' - Barcelona boss Xavi hails Pique for retirement 'gesture' after unexpected announcement
- Pique announced retirement this week
- Defender will play last game on Saturday
- Xavi had difficult talk about his place in squad
WHAT HAPPENED? Pique confirmed on Thursday that he will bring an end to his playing career imminently, with the weekend's clash against Almeria set to be his last. The defender has featured just five times in La Liga this season, only three as a starter. Xavi says he respects his former teammate's decision to retire and says he had an honest talk with the defender about his place in the side.
WHAT THEY SAID: Xavi told reporters: "Pique is a player who still has a contract and who could have continued at the club, so his gesture shows spectacular greatness. We had a private conversation at the beginning of the summer. I had to explain my intentions to him and it was one of the most difficult moments I’ve had to do as a coach.
"We heard about Pique’s decision this week. Surely I have had an important weight in making this decision, but the truth is that I have to make decisions and in many situations someone else played over Pique. For me it is not a relief that he is leaving now. It is a personal decision for him, due to the circumstances and due to the conversation we had in the summer. I’ve tried to be honest with Pique… The footballer always feels when you don’t play him, the coach is to be blamed."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The likes of Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen and Eric Garcia have all gone ahead of Pique in the pecking order for a place in the starting XI. The Spain international's contract was set to run out in the summer but he will bring an end to his career much sooner than that.
IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT FOR PIQUE? The 35-year-old will bid farewell to the Barca fans when they take on Almeria on Saturday in his final game for the club.