Barcelona coach Xavi has hailed fellow club legend Gerard Pique’s decision to retire as a ‘gesture of spectacular greatness’.
Pique called time on his glittering career on Thursday, saying he will stop playing football when LaLiga breaks for the World Cup this month.
Pique, 35, said in a video posted on social media that Saturday’s league clash with Almeria will be his last at Barcelona’s Camp Nou after 14 years with the Catalan giants following his return from Manchester United in 2008.
The World Cup winner has a contract with Barcelona until 2024 but he will renounce the remaining year and half his salary, La Vanguardia newspaper reported.
The decision will help Barcelona improve their financial fair play margin since Pique is among their best-paid players.
Reacting to the decision of his former teammate, Xavi, now Barcelona’s manager.
‘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.
‘Pique is brave, a winner, a great teammate, and a very intelligent person.
He has been a great captain for Barca.
‘Gerard can be president of Barça and he can be whatever he wants, because he has plenty of capacity and leadership, no doubt.
‘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 Piqué…
The footballer always feels when you don’t play him, the coach is to be blamed.
‘That’s why I say that sometimes the job of a coach is unpleasant because you have to make difficult decisions.
The conversation we had is private.’
Garrard Pique is expecting to be included in Barcelona Lineup against Almeria tomorrow evening.