BARCELONAÂ boss Xavi hailed Gerard PiqueÂ ‘gesture of spectacular greatness’ as the legend gave up Â£44million by retiring mid-contract.
But ratherÂ than see out his deal untilÂ 2024, the 102-cap Spaniard has opted to bow out at home to Almeria in LaLiga this Saturday.
Former team-mate XaviÂ said: “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.Â
“I had to explain my intentions to him and it was one of the most difficult moments Iâve had to do as a coach.
“We heard about Piqueâs 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.
“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.”
Former midfield geniusÂ Xavi, 42, reluctant to elaborate on his awkward pre-season chat with Pique.
But he said: “Iâve tried to be honest with Piqueâ¦ the footballer always feels when you donât play him, the coach is to be blamed.
“Thatâs 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.”Â
Pique won 30 trophies with his boyhood and hometownÂ club Barca, including three ChampionsÂ League successes and eight LaLiga crowns.
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