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Friendship turned into heartbreak

The relationship between Xavi Hernández and Gerard Piqué was forged during the seven seasons (between 2008-09 and 2014-15) that they shared a dressing room at the Camp Nou. prolific seven years under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, Tata Martino and Luis Enrique who make up one of the best moments in the history of the Catalan club. And also of the Spanish team, with Vicente del Bosque at the helm, with which they won the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship. Both were key pieces, one leading the defense and the other making the team play from midfield. A relationship that transcended the pitch, since the ‘Pep Team’, the best Barça in history, was more than just a team, it was a family.

However, the arrival of Xavi to the culé bench six and a half years after leaving has ended up perverting that friendship due to labor and hierarchy issues. It was predictable based on published psychological studies, which recommend don’t work with friends and, if it happens, avoid sharing physical spaces and projects. And much less if there is a hierarchical relationship. Everything has been broken with the signing of Xavi and Piqué’s stripes in the locker room. «So that the friendship does not suffer, it is key that one friend is not the boss of the other, although it is also very important where the relationship between the two began. In the case of Xavi and Piqué, it is easy for conflicts to arise because we are not used to seeing our friend in a commanding role, making decisions that we may not share,” the psychologist explained to ABC. Silvia Rodriguez-Bautistafounding member of ‘Mood Psychology’.

Xavi was presented last November 8, a year ago now, after the dismissal of Ronald Koeman. He kept Piqué in the eleven of a mediocre Barça, but it was immediately clear that he needed to strengthen the defense and that football was retiring his former teammate. He endured as he could with what he had, although certain details of the dynamics and the relationship in the locker room did not escape him, such as when he was celebrating his birthday with his wife, Nuria Cunillera, at the Sushi 99 restaurant near his home. There he coincidentally met Leo MessiSergio BusquetsJordi Alba and their respective partners (Antonela Rocuzzo, Elena Galera and Romarey Ventura), who were having dinner together. Pique was not there. He is a stranger in a group that holds the captaincy of the team, and that has shared a thousand battles at Barça and the Spanish team.

The relationship began to suffer and crack in the middle of last May, when, with the season already decided, Xavi met with the central defender to make it clear to him that his role would change, who planned to strengthen the team in defense (Christensen and Koundé were signed) and who would not have the same role as before. In addition, he criticized his hectic social life, his controversial personal life in shorthand in the gossip magazine (he was separating from Shakira) and his many business projects that seemed to take precedence over football. “Bring me the best central defender in the world who will be a substitute with me,” Piqué snapped, who trusted in his ability.

But Xavi kept his word and turned the defender into the quinto central, who only had minutes when Araujo, Christensen and Koundé were injured. The technician, in addition, did not sit well with the wish of the footballer on the bench, including yawns while the team played. Even last week his entry into the field in Valencia had to be delayed after the inconvenience Koundé suffered because he did not have his boots on and the laces were knotted. Xavi’s discomfort was expressed when he understood that Piqué was spoiling the good atmosphere in the locker room by complaining about his situation. “I don’t even play petanque”the center-back lamented after the defeat in Munich (2-0), to which the Egarense, very angry at the result, replied: “And less than that you are going to play!”.

However, the vicissitudes and setbacks left Xavi no choice but to field the Catalan in some games. The relationship was completely broken after the draw against Inter (3-3) on October 12, which left Barcelona virtually eliminated from the Champions League. Piqué, who was portrayed in one of the goals with a resounding error, was one of the mentioned by the coach, who left him without playing the next four games, including the one at the Bernabéu. He preferred to opt for Koundé, who was coming off an injury and was not one hundred percent.

Despite all this, Xavi is publicly full of praise for Piqué and rules out having problems with the centre-back. «We had a conversation in the summer, I told him my intentions. It was one of the hardest days of my coaching career and now too, he was my partner. I don’t know if I’ve been fair or not, but I’ve been sincere and honest,” explained the coach yesterday, who wanted to make it clear that “I have no problem with Gerard, he’s added and if he continued I’d be delighted.” “It is a decision due to the circumstances and perhaps also due to the talk we had in the summer. Surely I have had a significant weight in his decision, but for the good of the club. I have looked for the good of the club and the institution, but I have to make decisions, it is not easy, sometimes unpleasant, that is why sometimes I have decided to put someone else. I must look for the best for the club. There is nothing personal, it is just a football issue, “he added.

Piqué’s exit could be the prelude to that of Jordi Alba. Xavi also explained to the winger his progressive change of role in the team and his commitment to the young Alejandro Balde confirms this.

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