Barcelona coach Xavi faced the press on Friday and faced a barrage of questions about Gerard Pique following the defender’s announcement he is set to retire.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Pique retiring
He deserves all the love of the Barca fans. I’ve known him as a team-mate and a coach. He’s decided to put a full stop to his career. I understand completely. He feels less important, less useful, it happened to me too. It’s normal you want to step aside. He could easily continue but he’s shown great professionalism by stepping aside and I wish him all the best and am so grateful to everything. Barca fans should value him as he is, a legend of the club.
Xavi on Pique
We had a conversation ahead of the season. I communicated my intentions. It was a very private chat obviously. It was some of the most difficult moments of my career as a coach, speaking with Gerard this summer. And then also it’s a difficult moment as a friend. I love him a lot. But it happens to all of us. You get to the point when you are not quite as useful. You feel badly. I went through it and it’s difficult to manage this. He says right now, he doesn’t feel important and that’s enough for me.
Xavi on what role he played in Pique’s retirement
An important part. These are decisions that are taken for the good of the team, for the club. A lot of times you take these decisions and they are not the right ones. I decided the best for the team, for the institution and in that sense created a lot of moments when other players would play instead of Gerard. It’s difficult, difficult for me. I hold him in very high esteem but as the coach of Barca I have to make these decisions. It’s a tough role and you don’t receive a lot of gratitude but I have to do the best for the cub.
Xavi on if Pique will start
We’ll see tomorrow.
Xavi on if Pique’s been treated fairly
I don’t know if it’s been fair. I’ve been sincere and honest, clear in my message and what I wanted. I’ve always been open with Gerard. I will say it again. He’s been an example from the start of my being a coach. An example for the captains, the youngsters, the staff. He always trains at 100% and has been professional.
Xavi on if Pique should have left in the summer
These are circumstances. We don’t always choose the end. The circumstances make you see it. How you are, your role in the team, and that’s what’s helped him make this decision. We’ve helped each other a lot. He’s always given his all. When he’s played. He’s a winner, always has been, and will continue to be wherever he goes.
Xavi on Pique’s best strengths
He’s brave, competitive, he’s a winner, he has no fears, he’s super competitive, intelligent. He has an amazing intellectual capacity, more than normal, he’s dedicated to what he does. He’s been a good team-mate, captain, nothing to complain about.
Xavi on when Pique will stop
We are counting on having him with us until Osasuna.
Xavi on Pique being president
Gerard can be whatever he wants, with the ability, leadership, personality he has. He has abilities without doubt.
Xavi on if he’d prefer Pique to stay
I have no problems with him. I’d like him to keep playing, keep working. He’s always been professional. I have no complaints. It’s a personal decision he has taken because of the circumstances.
Xavi on signing a new center-back
We’ll see. We know now he is leaving. Yes, maybe. We have to look at what we can do. We will have a meeting after the match against Osasuna to plan a little bit.
Xavi on if he’s feeling nostalgic about Barca
That’s life. Now we have to build a new generation. There are a lot of young players, gaining importance, a new era. We hope this new generation can bring a lot of success. But yet it’s a shame when you see great team-mates, friends say goodbye.
Xavi on if he’s spoke to Pique since
He’s alright. I’ve spoken with the team too. It’s fine. He’s very serene, calm.
Xavi on preparing for Almeria
Well it’s extra motivation. To say goodbye to Gerard at the Camp Nou. Take away the three points and leave in the best way possible. The fans will come and cheer him, cheer us on, and give him what he deserves. He deserves all the best for his extraordinary career. We will try to make it a great day for the club, for him especially. For me he’s one of the best center-backs in the history of the sport.
Xavi on what surprised him most about Pique
It was a surprise to see his personality. The way he played, the way he understands everything. Even the first match. He was unusual for his age. He’s brave, he’s got a different level of intelligence. He’s extraordinary. He gives a lot of safety, security as well.
Xavi on Barca Atletic center-backs
We are going to keep going. Chadi is very physical, has great distribution. He’s player we like that’s why he’s on the list. There are various options we could bring in. Chadi is a player who definitely could have a present and future for the club.
Xavi on if Pique’s Barca’s best every center-back
He is the best center-back of Barca. It’s clear he’s among the top, one of the best center-backs in the sport without doubt.
Xavi on who he thinks are the best center-backs ever
Beckenbauer, Baresi. I don’t know in England, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry. Pique is at this level with the best. In my opinion one of the best in the history of football. I’m pretty sure.