BARCELONA: Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said on Friday that defender Gerard Pique is working hard in training to win his place back amid rumors that he could be looking to move away from the club.
Pique was left out of the squad last weekend in the home defeat against Celta Vigo and he was an used substitute in the mid-week Champions League victory over Ajax Amsterdam.
Luis Enrique refused to confirm that the defender will face Almeria on Saturday in La Liga, where the Catalan side badly need a win to get back on track having slipped down to fourth in the table following back-to-back losses.
“We will have to see. He is doing his best in training and all that a footballer can to play,” the irate coach told a news conference in Barcelona after being questioned persistently about the player in recent weeks.
“The team was not fixed at the start of the season and depending on the form of players on a game to game basis I will pick the side. Rotating the players will help us come the end of the campaign.”
Pique was heralded as one of Europe’s top center backs after returning to Barcelona from Manchester United in 2008, elegantly bringing the ball out of defence in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side, which won three La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies.
Recently, however, he seems to have lost his way when – at the age of 27 — he should be at his peak.
Last season Barca failed to win a major trophy and the defense as a whole struggled. Pique looked labored and vulnerable when run at, while there was an on-going debate about his attitude.
His last La Liga match was the 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid when he conceded a penalty by clumsily handling the ball.
He was then seen on the substitutes’ bench in a regional cup game against Espanyol using his mobile phone for long spells.
Several Premier League clubs are said to be interested in bringing him back to England, according to reports, but Luis Enrique denied he was looking to offload the player.
“I won’t talk any more about this,” he said.
“I am happy with the players that I have. Luckily this season I haven’t seen any players with the wrong attitude. If I saw it as has been the case in other seasons when players haven’t been concentrated then I would act upon it.”