Going into the offseason, Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez knew there would be some tough decisions he would have to make. He was going to have to say goodbye to a number of players in order to put together the squad he wants and improve on last season.
Unexpectedly to some, he appears to have made a very tough decision regarding Gerard Pique.
According to Sport, Xavi spoke with the 35-year-old center-back to inform him that he was not in his plans for next season. Some of the reasons the manager gave as to why was Pique’s fitness and his “unprofessional conduct” outside the pitch.
Pique’s season was marred with injuries but he battled through them to help the team. Despite his age, the Barcelona defense looked better with him in it. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing is up to interpretation.
Pique does have a life outside of the sport and is involved in a number of projects. Recently, however, they’ve gotten him into some trouble. Leaked audio revealed he played a significant role in helping the Royal Spanish Football Federation take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia, bringing up the issue of conflicts of interest.
More recently, he was in the tabloid news with rumors of a break-up with Shakira. That rumor was later confirmed by the couple who announced their split.
He’s also involved with second division side FC Andorra, of which he is the owner.
You combine all those things and it is of little surprise why Xavi would not have him in his plans. He has too much on his plate which could take away from his focus on the pitch.
For his part, Pique has no intention of leaving the club and his plan is to continue for at least one more season.
After so many years, one might wonder why the club now seem so keen on moving on. One of the reasons has to do with the amount of wages owed. According to Marca, he is owed around €40 million next season. He could be owed more than €80 million the next two seasons.
Getting those wages off the books would be a big relief for Barcelona and allow them more flexibility when it comes to signing and registering new players.
While Pique intends to stay, he already knows he is not going to be an undisputed starter next season. Once Andreas Christensen’s signing is confirmed, he seems destined to partner Ronald Araujo in the center of the Barça defense.
Whether one likes it or not, Pique is a Barcelona legend. But his time as an active player is coming to an end sooner rather than later.