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Xavi had told Barcelona defender to “step aside” to prioritise the team

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Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

As we approach the coming summer, Barcelona are set to prepare for the new season without three of their old guards Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. All three players had either decided to retire or leave Barcelona during the course of this campaign.

In a recent interview, Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has revealed his role in convincing Pique to step aside at the end of last year.

“I told Pique to step aside, that he would play less. It was hard for me because we enjoyed a lot together – but the team comes first,” he told TV3 (h/t Reshad Rahman).

Pique announced his retirement just before the January transfer window. It was a sudden move by the defender, who was facing criticism over his performances and standing in the team, with many pointing towards his hefty wages.

It compelled the defender to hang up his boots, even relieving Barcelona of all their dues. His decision gave Barça some breathing space, as they were able to reduce a chunk of their salary mass.

Although the Catalans were not able to sign a single player during the January transfer window, Pique’s retirement, coupled with Busquets and Alba’s departures should go a long way in helping Barcelona balance the books ahead of the new season.

During his time at Camp Nou, Pique featured in over 600 competitive matches, winning various accolades in the process. His retirement has left a hole in the defensive unit for Barcelona, even though the club performed extremely well defensively during the second half of the campaign.

The club are hoping to plug the leadership gap at the back by bringing in Inigo Martinez. The Athletic Club veteran has agreed to join Barça a few months ago, even though the club are still not in a position to ratify the deal.

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