Xavi opens up about the ‘difficult’ chat he had with Gerard Pique after shock retirement announcement

Barcelona manager Xavi has stated that he understands Gerard Pique’s decision to announce his retirement from football mid-season.

Pique made a shock announcement on Thursday night that Saturday’s La Liga match against Almeria would be his final at the Camp Nou, as he prepares to retire after next week’s league match against Osasuna.

The veteran centre-back has had a difficult start to the 2022/23 season, with the club indicating they are unwilling to extend his contract beyond 2023.

Pique has featured 615 times for Barcelona during his successful career, and the 35-year-old now hopes to make two more appearances against Almeria and Osasuna before hanging up his boots.

He has won eight LaLiga titles, including five with Xavi, as well as a world and European championship with La Roja and three Champions Leagues.

Xavi, asked about Piqué’s decision at the pre-match press conference, paid tribute to his former teammate. He said (via Sports Mole):

“We will try to get the three points and keep the pressure on Real Madrid. This is also a special match for Piqué, to whom we will give all our love”.

“I understand Piqué’s decision given the circumstances. I’ve been through it too and I wish him the best. Barcelona fans also describe him as a club legend.

“I was lucky to be a teammate of Piqué. Difficult circumstances forced him to retire. I went through a similar situation and it was natural for me to resign. Geri had a contract and she decided to leave it, which is a great gesture. He is a legend at the club, and he deserves to be recognized as such.

“Piqué’s personality surprised me. His way of playing, his way of understanding football. Even when I was with him, as a player at the age of 22-23, he was very brave, smarter than the rest. For me, he is one of the best defenders I have ever played with.

Gerard Piqué has had a highly decorated career with Barcelona

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During a summer conversation with Pique, Xavi reportedly told the defender that he would play little this season. Although the coach refused to reveal details, he stated that it was one of his most difficult moments as a coach:

“I had a talk with Piqué before the season started, it was a private conversation. Talking to him was one of the most difficult moments of my coaching career. But in the end we have reached a point where we see the interest of the club above all else.

“There were decisions that I had to make in the interest of the club and the team. Some of them were not desirable. The Piqué thing was hard because he is my former teammate. We are grateful to him, but we are making decisions in the interest of the club.

“I have been clear with Piqué and I have sent my message directly about what I believe. Before I said that Piqué is a role model for the leaders, for the team and for future generations. But I’ve been honest with him since the summer, and it was circumstances that decided what happened.

“I had no problem getting Piqué to stay, but he made his decision after the conversation we had in the summer. When a player doesn’t play much, the coach is the first to blame. That’s part of my job, and I have to live with it. Previously he also passed with Dani Alves.

“Piqué is one of the best defenders in the history of this sport. It’s about circumstances, sometimes we don’t choose our ending. In the end, you appreciate everything about your role in the team.

“And this is what Piqué did, and then he made his decision. But I am grateful to him and I will always remember that he gives everything he has on the field.”

Piqué has previously stated his desire to be president of Barcelona in the future and promised to be “back” in his farewell video.

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