Pique leaves a double void at Barcelona: On the pitch and in the locker room

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Gerard Pique said goodbye to the crowd at the Camp Nou yesterday, Saturday, against Almeria and on Tuesday he will hang up his boots for good in Pamplona.

Barcelona are still coming to terms with the announcement of his retirement, which he made public on Thursday, but he is already being missed both for what his retirement means in the dressing room - where he is one of the most outstanding leaders of the squad - and for his contribution on the pitch.

Pique has lost prominence this season in the team on a sporting level, but he has been an important part of the dressing room for years.

Always a leader

He was one of the leaders, he generated a good atmosphere and helped the integration of the new players and the youngsters.

"We need people like that in a team. He leaves us a very important legacy: of leadership, of personality," Xavi said at the end of the match against Almeria.

The coach has stood up for him on many occasions, although he has also recognised that his decision not to count on him has precipitated his retirement.

His teammates have expressed themselves along the same lines. From the most veteran to the youngest, including the new arrivals.

"He's always helping, making jokes, smiling," Sergi Roberto said.

"He is one of my best friends, both inside and outside football. Yesterday when we saw the video we all almost cried. He explains it well. His dream was not to be a footballer but a Barcelona player."

"It's a great loss and we will miss him. I wish him all the best and I want to thank him for everything he has done for me and for the dressing room."

A great pro

Even Robert Lewandowski has acknowledged his role in his early adaptation. "He is a great professional and is one of the greats of football," the striker said.

"He is a legend of this club. It's sad to see him go. For me, it used to be a great challenge always to face him. He is brilliant. Now I've shared a dressing room with him and he's an exceptional guy."

Pique was a highly influential figure in the group thanks to his successful and long career, his extroversion, sense of humour, charisma and his unquestionable feeling for Barcelona.

But Pique has also played an important role in Barcelona's triumphs in recent years. His role in the squad has diminished this season, which has prompted him to take the decision to retire, but the club, faced with his departure, is considering reinforcing the centre-back position in the winter transfer window.

The intention was to sign only a right-back and a midfielder in January, but now an effort will also be made to shore up the centre of defence. The decision will be finalised in the next few days, but Xavi is in favour of an addition in that position.

"Let's see if we sign. Maybe we will. We'll see what we can do. There is time and room to plan", admitted Xavi.

The target is Inigo Martinez, who the club had planned to sign in the summer, when his contract with Athletic Club comes to an end. The club must now assess whether it is possible to incorporate him before or bring another defender in transition.

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