Xavi appeared before the media in the Ricard Maxenchs press room the day before Gerard Piqué’s retirement, so he could already expect that the conference would revolve around the centre-back.
Pique leaves. How does the team deal with this?:“We focus on tomorrow’s game to win the three points, to put a little more pressure on Madrid. And conditioned, of course, by Gerard’s dismissal. He deserves all the praise from Barcelona fans. The career that he has done. He has decided to put an end to his career. I understand the adverse circumstances. He feels less important, less useful, and it is normal to take this step aside. He demonstrates spectacular greatness by stepping to the side. He deserves all the praise and that Barcelona fans honor him for what he is, a club legend. For tomorrow it is an extra motivation. Let the people cheer for Gerard, he applauds him. Because he deserves everything for this extraordinary career. We have to try to make it a great day for the club. Without him Barça loses leadership, commitment. He is one of the best centre-backs in the history of this sport.
You spoke with him in the summer to communicate your intentions: “We had a conversation before the season started. Logically, a private conversation. It has been one of the most difficult days of my coaching career. And now is a difficult time. He has been a teammate, I have great appreciation for him, but it has happened to all of us. It is difficult to manage. It is a great thing for him as a person and as a player to say that he will not continue”.
What weight do you have in Piqué’s withdrawal?: “Surely, important. But they are decisions that I have to make for the good of the club. I’ve looked at what’s best for the team. It’s that hard. It has cost me because I appreciate him, it is not easy. And that’s why I tell you that it’s ungrateful to be Barça’s coach, but I have to look out for the good of the club”.