Gerard Pique has been sensationally told by Xavi – Barcelona manager and former team-mate – that he is no longer part of his plans and can leave Camp Nou.
It has been revealed that the Spain international was told two weeks ago that he had no future at the club due to unprofessional conduct off the pitch and his deteriorating physical condition.
Xavi’s shock revelation came just days before Pique’s high-profile split from Colombian singer Shakira was revealed.
Spanish outlet SPORT also claim Xavi’s main problem with the player is his numerous business interests off the pitch, and Pique is believed to owe Barca around €40m (£34.3m) in payments deferred.
Gerard Pique (left) was told by Xavi he was no longer needed at Barcelona – just days before his split from Shakira (right)
Centre-back Pique, 35, is among Barcelona’s highest-paid players despite his age
Pique has been at the club for 14 years but has been told he is no longer needed
Xavi reportedly spoke directly to his former teammate and clarified that Pique won’t be included in his plans for the future.
Although Xavi doesn’t question Pique’s ability to perform at the highest level, he is believed to be concerned about the veteran defender’s ability to cope with the busy schedule of modern football.
The club will be hoping Pique makes a dignified exit this summer and even leave them some of the £34.3million they owe him, just like legendary figure Carles Puyol did when he left in 2014.
Puyol left the Catalan giants in 2014 after 15 seasons with the first team with two years left on his contract, like his former defensive partner, as his body was unable to handle the demands of professional football.
Under Pep Guardiola, Pique won 14 trophies at Barcelona, including two Champions Leagues
But Pique is ready to resist the club’s desire to see him go and is reportedly vowing to work harder, get back to his best form and relieve himself of some of his off-field commitments.
Sporting director Mateu Alemany is now set to speak with Pique about the possibility of him tearing up his contract or finding him a new club.
Xavi, who has played 312 games for Pique, wants to build his team around a defense he can fully trust, and according to the Barca legend, that’s something Pique can’t give him.
In recent years, Pique has also been embroiled in a row over the management of the Spanish FA and fined almost £8,000 for abusing the police after being handed a parking ticket.
Pique is the founder of a sports and media investment holding called Kosmos Holding, which he formed and is also chairman of, alongside four other partners, including Barca sponsor founder Hiroshi Mikitani , Rakuten.
Xavi and Pique have played over 300 games together at the Catalan club as well as 51 for Spain
Xavi won the World Cup and the European Championships (twice) alongside Pique
Despite Xavi’s comments, however, Pique is still under contract until 2024.
SPORT reports also suggest that Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, who has been a top target for many clubs including Chelsea, is a player Xavi wants as a potential replacement.
Barcelona are set to sign Andreas Christensen from Chelsea on a free transfer and are interested in Cesar Azpilicueta. Uruguayan star Ronald Araujo has already been named as the club’s new defensive leader.
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 Reys, six Spanish Super Cups and three UEFA Super Cups. , scoring 53 goals in 602 games.
It’s another blow for Pique after Shakira announced their split last week
It’s another blow for Pique after Shakira announced their split last week.
The former couple – 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 are asking for privacy at this time for the well-being of our children, who are our top priority. Thank you in advance for your understanding and respect.’
The Grammy winner and the athlete went public as a couple in 2011.
The announcement comes amid rumors in Spanish tabloids that the couple were set to split with sources claiming they cheated on the star.
Spanish outlet El Periodico reported that the couple had been living apart for a few weeks after Pique was kicked out of the family home by the pop star.
According to sources, Pique has since been leading a ‘party lifestyle’ in a bachelor pad and enjoying nights out with his teammates.
Neither party has responded to the cheating allegations, but journalist Emilio Pérez reported: ‘(Shakira) has made the decision to part ways. It’s like that. It happened.
That is why there is distance. Maybe there’s nothing left, but that (the infidelity) is over.