Gerard Pique has admitted that some changes in personnel are needed at Barcelona this summer, and backed the club’s hierarchy to make the right decisions to improve the squad.
Barca’s recent setbacks in the Champions League, Copa del Rey and La Liga have led to calls for a big shake-up of the team, something made more likely by FIFA’s announcement that the two-window transfer ban imposed for breaking youth transfer rules had been lifted pending the Catalan club’s appeal.
The summer’s planning is likely to be led by Blaugrana sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board -- despite much recent criticism of how transfer policy has been handled over recent seasons.
In comments made before news of the ban being lifted was made public, the Spain centre-back told Barcelona’s official website that he and his teammates had confidence in those in charge at the Camp Nou to do a good job.
“The planning is a job for the technical staff,” Pique said. “We are just here to work hard and do our best. It’s clear there will be some changes, as there are every year. We are Barca and this is a very demanding club, but I think we have a solid base, which is the homegrown players. We have an exciting future and I have great confidence in the people leading the club and the players.”
Pique also said he did not think the criticism recently aimed at coach Gerardo Martino was fair, given the Argentine had done a decent job in difficult circumstances.
“Tata is not to blame for what has happened this year,” he said. “He came here at the last minute, and his relationship with the squad has been good. Almost all the blame is on the players.”
Pique also defended Cesc Fabregas, who has been made a scapegoat by some pundits and Blaugrana fans this season.
“It isn’t good to have fans whistling you -- particularly at home,” Pique said. “I think it is a mistake to focus on just one player. Blame it on the players, okay, but not just Cesc. The season has not been good and I think we are all part of a group that haven’t quite got things right.”
Lionel Messi should also be above criticism considering what he has done for the club over the years, Pique added.
“[Criticism of Messi] is something that you don’t think could happen -- he’s the world No. 1 and the cornerstone of this team,” Pique said. “Thanks to him we have won everything we have won. In my opinion we are talking about the best player in the history of the game -- I know that he will be here for many years because he loves the club, the city and being here.”
Pique said he was still hopeful that Barca could take advantage of slips by La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, having got back on track by beating Athletic Bilbao 2-1 last weekend.
“We came into that game on the back of a bad defeat and the team showed character and play against a strong opponent,” he said. “I think there is still hope in the league though it will be tough. This is a club that has won more than once or twice on the last day of the season.”