The 35-year-old Pique not feel as “essential or valuable” to the squad as he once did, according to Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez, who says he understands Pique’s decision to retire midway through the season.
Pique made the decision to play his final game at Camp Nou against Almeria on Saturday. He also said he would be available for the club’s final matchup before the World Cup on Tuesday against Osasuna.
Pique has only been used by Xavi this season due to injuries, as he is ranked below Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Eric Garcia, and Andreas Christensen for the center-back position.
Xavi said at a press conference on Friday, “They are difficult conditions for him, which have led to him quitting.”
“Playing less and being less valuable, I experienced this too, and stepping away is natural. He is a club legend and deserves all the praise and respect from Barcelona fans.
Pique and Xavi were teammates throughout the club’s most prosperous period, when they won trebles in 2009 and 2015. Xavi acknowledged that he had a substantial impact on the events that led to Pique’s retirement.
In a summer conversation with Pique, according to Spanish media, Xavi predicted he would play little this year. The coach said that it was one of his most challenging times as a coach, but he declined to go into specifics.
“We spoke at the beginning of the season, and I explained my goals to him. The day was one of the worst days of my coaching career since it was private.
And now it’s really harder because he was my teammate and I really respect him. You feel horrible when the team no longer values or needs you as much.
“(My part) was undoubtedly significant, but you must make these choices for the benefit of the club. I sought for the very best for Barca. That is how difficult it is.
As the coach of Barcelona, I must make judgments, and it’s unpleasant to have to do so.
Pique was compared to Carles Puyol, John Terry, Franz Beckenbauer, and Franco Baresi by Xavi as one of the greatest center backs of all time.
Xavi continued, “He’s brave, competitive, a winner, he has no worries or complexes, he’s very competitive, very brilliant, and he was a terrific teammate and captain.”
Pique declared in his farewell video that he will be “back” and has previously shown an interest in becoming Barcelona’s president in the future.
The Barcelona coach remarked, “Gerard can be anything he wants. There is no question given his nature and capacity.