Gerard Piqué has been sensationally told by Xavi -the Barcelona coach and his former teammate- that he is no longer part of his plans and can leave the Camp Nou.
It has been revealed that the Spain international was told he has no future at the club two weeks ago due to unprofessional conduct off the pitch and his deteriorating physical condition.
Xavi’s shock revelation came just days before Piqué’s high-profile split from Colombian singer Shakira came to light.
Spanish media outlet SPORT also claims that Xavi’s main problem with the player is his numerous off-field business interests, with Barça believed to owe Pique approximately €40m (£34.3m). for deferred payments.
Xavi told Gerard Piqué (left) that he was no longer needed in Barcelona, just a few days before he split with Shakira (right).
The central Piqué, 35, is among the best paid players in Barcelona despite his age
Piqué has been at the club for 14 years but they have told him that it is no longer necessary
Xavi reportedly spoke directly to his former teammate and made it clear that Pique is not going to be included in his plans for the future.
While Xavi does not 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 modern football’s hectic schedule.
The club are hoping that Pique will make a worthy exit this summer and even allow them to pay back some of the £34.3m they owe him, just as legendary figure Carles Puyol did when he left in 2014.
Puyol left the Catalan team in 2014 after 15 seasons in the first team with two years left on his contract, like his former defensive partner, due to his body’s inability to cope with the demands of professional football.
Under Pep Guardiola, Piqué won 14 trophies at Barcelona, including two Champions Leagues.
But Pique is keen to resist the club’s desire to see him go and has reportedly vowed to work harder, return to his best form and free himself from some of his off-pitch commitments.
Sporting director Mateu Alemany will now have to talk to Piqué about the possibility of him terminating his contract or looking for a new club for him.
Xavi, who played 312 games under Pique, wants to build his team around a defense he can fully rely on and, according to the Barca legend, that is something Pique cannot bring him.
In recent years, Pique has also been embroiled in a dispute over the leadership of the Spanish FA and has been fined almost £8,000 for abusing the police after receiving a parking ticket.
Pique is the founder of a sports and media investment holding company called Kosmos Holding, which he formed and is also chairman of, along with four other partners, including Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder of Barca sponsor Rakuten.
Xavi and Piqué played more than 300 games together for the Catalan club and 51 for Spain
Xavi won the World Cup and the European Championship (twice) playing alongside Piqué
However, despite Xavi’s comments, Piqué still has a contract until 2024.
Reports from SPORT also suggest that Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, who has been a high-profile target for numerous 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 appointed as the new leader of the club’s defence.
Since returning to the club in 2008 after four years at Manchester United, Piqué has won three Champions Leagues, eight LaLigas, three Club World Cups, seven Copas del Rey, six Spanish Super Cups and three UEFA Super Cups, scoring 53 goals in 602 matches.
It is another bitter blow for Piqué after Shakira announced their separation last week.
It’s another bitter blow for Pique after Shakira announced their split last week.
The former couple, who are parents to sons Milan, nine, and Sasha, seven, issued a joint statement saying: “We regret to confirm that we are separating.”
‘We ask for privacy at this time for the well-being of our children, who are our highest priority. Thank you in advance for your understanding and respect.’
The Grammy winner and the athlete initially came out publicly as a couple in 2011.
The announcement comes amid rumors in Spanish tabloids that the couple were about to break up with sources claiming they had cheated on the star.
Spanish newspaper El Periódico reported that the couple have been living apart for a few weeks after the pop star kicked Piqué out of the family home.
According to sources, Pique has since been living a “party lifestyle” in a bachelor pad and enjoying nights out with his teammates.
Neither party has addressed the cheating claims, but journalist Emilio Pérez reported: ‘(Shakira) has made the decision to part ways. That’s so. Has occurred.
That is why there is distance. Perhaps there is nothing left, but that (infidelity) has already passed’.