Football News

I’m playing better for Barca after my international retirement – Pique

By Nick Thompson

Published: 17:54, 27 March 2019

Gerard Pique has said he is playing better for his club side Barcelona following his retirement from international duty with Spain afterthe 2018 World Cup.

The 32-year-old has 102 caps for Spain but decided to call it quits after his country’s poor showing in Russia.

Pique’s form post-Spain: Five things to know…

  1. Pique won the 2010 World Cup, along with Euro 2012 with Spain.
  2. However he retired on 102 caps after Russia 2018, focusing instead on Barca.
  3. This season he has already made 28 league appearances (not missing a game), scoring four goals – compared with 30 and two respectively last season.
  4. Barca remain on track for a 26th title, with 10 points separating them and Atletico.
  5. The towering defender, who has also assisted three times for his team, recently made an appearance for Catalonia against Venezuela in a friendly.

The former Man United man has been in fine form this season, believing the break he gets now during the international weeks has given him an extra edge when trying to stay fresh.

“The decision has been made and I do not regret it.” Pique told Sport.

“The people that don’t want to understand it aren’t going to understand [my international retirement] but I explained it all at the time.

“It was the right moment to leave the Spanish national team. I needed to rest.”

Pique did take part in Catalonia’s 2-1 friendly win over Venezuela, though he made it clear it isn’t a signal he is prepared to return to Spain duty.

“The Catalan national side only needed me for one day,” he said. “The two things have nothing to do with each other.”

On his improved form for Barca, he said: “It’s not just me, but others [who don’t play international football], but it’s obvious in my case I am performing better for Barca since I left [the Spanish team].”

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Pique enjoys stellar term for La Blaugrana

The 32-year-old has been the ever-constant alongside a younger central-defensive partner in Clement Lenglet or Samuel Umtiti, and has so far lined up in all 28 of Barca’s La Liga games this term.

With a passing success rate of 91.4% and a significant three assists, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to say the Catalan is having his most productive attacking season at Camp Nou too.

He had only managed nine assists in his previous 10 seasons in the leage, while he manages 4.4 clearances per game and 1.2 tackles.