Gerard Pique has promised to put aside his private life to ‘focus solely’ on football after Xavi said he would be a surplus to the requirements at Barcelona next season.
The Spanish international was told he had no future at the club two weeks ago due to his unprofessional conduct off the field and his deteriorating physical condition.
However, Pique has hit back at Barcelona president Joan Laporta for suggesting the club needed to bring in a top-level defender – claiming he will be Xavi’s first choice despite the manager’s comments.
Gerard Pique has promised to put aside his private life to focus solely on football next season
Xavi and Joan Laporta have suggested he will be surplus to requirement next season
Xavi told Pique – who is reportedly among the highest earners at Barcelona – that he was no longer part of his plans and that he could leave the Nou Camp this summer.
Xavi’s primary issues with the player are around his business interests off the field and his ability to cope with the hectic schedule within modern football.
However, Pique has disregarded Xavi’s comments and vowed to work harder to prove the Barcelona manager wrong, according to Sport.
The 35-year-old has also hit out against Laporta for hinting at the arrival of a ‘top-level defender’ by saying they would only be used as a substitute.
He reportedly said: ‘I’ll be a starter. If you have the guts, bring the best central defender in the world, who will come as a substitute. ‘
Xavi’s primary issues with the player are around his business interests off the pitch
The manager has also shared his concerns over Pique’s ability to cope with the hectic schedule
The club had hoped that Pique would make a dignified exit this summer but it appears he will be looking to stick around for as long as possible.
The veteran central defender is eager to show that even at 35 he is still the best option for Xavi next season.
As a result, he has attended the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper – Barcelona’s training ground – at 9am every morning to undergo rehab.
He is reportedly working hard to recover from the groin injury that ruled him out of the backend of last season.
Jules Kounde has been touted as Barcelona’s primary defensive target for the summer window
However, the French defender will have to undergo surgery for a ‘long-term issue’
He is also looking to re-establish his fitness to be able to compete against any incoming defenders.
As it stands, Jules Kounde has been touted as Barcelona’s primary defensive target for the summer window.
The Frenchman is thought to be one of the most sought-after young players in Europe this summer, with various European giants said to be chasing the player.
Kounde lasted just 45 minutes in France’s 1-0 defeat to Croatia in their Nations League fixture earlier this month before going off injured. He was replaced by Benjamin Pavard, with Didier Deschamps revealing afterwards that the 23-year-old needs surgery to fix a long-term ‘problem’.
Pique has attended the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper – Barcelona’s training ground – at 9am every morning to undergo rehab on the groin issue he sustained last season
Pique (left) is also making changes to his personal life after his high-profile split from Colombian singer Shakira (right) came to light
Pique is also making changes to his personal life. He will be taking a back seat when it comes to the businesses he is involved in.
Pique is the founder of a sport and media investment holding called Kosmos Holding, which he formed and is also president of, alongside four other partners.
One of those partners include Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder of Barcelona’s current sponsor and Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten.
The former pair (pictured together above) are parents to sons Milan, nine, and Sasha, seven
He will also be stepping away from social media as he looks to focus exclusively on football ahead of the 2022-2023 campaign.
This comes shortly after Pique’s high-profile split from Colombian singer Shakira came to light.
The former pair – who are parents to sons Milan, nine, and Sasha, seven – released a joint statement in which they said: ‘We regret to confirm that we are separating.
‘We ask for privacy at this moment for the well-being of our children, who are our maximum priority. Thank you in advance for your understanding and respect. ‘
Pique is taking a step in the right direction, but according to Sport, it will not be enough to warrant a place in Xavi’s team next season.
Xavi wants to build his team around a defense that he can put his full faith in, and according to the Barca legend, that is something Pique cannot bring him despite his storied career at the club.
Since returning to the club in 2008 after four years with Manchester United, Pique has won three Champions Leagues, eight LaLigas, three Club World Cups, seven Copa Del Rey, six Spanish Super Cups and three UEFA Supercups, scoring 53 goals in 602 games.
Under Pep Guardiola, Pique won 14 trophies at Barcelona including three Champions Leagues