Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez is busy making plans for his team as he prepares for his first full campaign in charge of the Catalan giants after arriving back at the Camp Nou midway through last season.
Xavi has already held a “face-to-face meeting” with defender Gerard Pique and told the veteran that he does not see him “as a starter for next season,” according to Mundo Deportivo.
The Barcelona coach also “made it clear” that Pique’s salary “is a great burden” for the club and is also prohibitive when it comes to new signings. Xavi is also worried about Pique’s fitness and “made it clear that his injury is a headache for him.”
The 35-year-old did struggle with injury in the second half of the 2021-22 campaign and was forced to miss the final weeks of the season because of an adductor problem. In total Pique still made 39 appearances in all competitions for the Catalans.
Pique responded to Xavi’s concerns by telling the coach he wants to continue at the club and prove his manager wrong. The veteran still believes “he is the best central defender” in the team but is willing to accept another salary reduction to help Barcelona out.
The former Spain international is contracted to Barcelona until 2024. Pique has previously said he will retire the day he feels he “can’t help Barca anymore.”
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More Pay Cuts Coming at Barcelona?
Pique is not the only Barcelona player set to take a pay cut this summer, according to Diario Sport. The Catalans want all four club captains, Pique, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, and Sergi Roberto, to accept reductions.
Roberto has already agreed a one-year contract renewal with a 60% pay cut. The Catalans will now speak to Busquets, Pique, and Alba to try and reach further agreements.
The pay cuts are needed to help Barcelona try and bring in new players this summer to strengthen the squad. The Catalans are also hoping to raise funds by selling off various assets and will hold a vote at a general assembly on Thursday, June 16 to authorize the sale of Barca Licensing and Merchandizing and future television rights.
Christensen On His Way?
Meanwhile, Xavi won’t lack for central defensive options next season with Chelsea having already confirmed Andreas Christensen has departed. The Dane has agreed to move to Barcelona on a free transfer.
Christensen will join Pique, Ronald Araujo, Oscar Mingueza, Clement Lenglet, and Samuel Umtiti at the Camp Nou, although it’s expected there will be departures this summer too.
Mingueza, Umtiti and Lenglet are the most likely players to leave which could also mean Barcelona bring in another center-back. Xavi has already spoken to Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly about a move, according to Diario Sport.
Koulibaly is one of Europe’s most highly-rated center-backs but is heading into the final year of his Napoli contract which means the Serie A club may be tempted to sell to avoid losing him for free next year.