Gerard Pique has reflected on his desire to stay at Barcelona and on how his personal life is often discussed alongside his professional career.
The defender is seen as one of the next names on Barca’s list of squad members to reach terms of a new contract and he has this week indicated that initial talks are progressing.
“We have started discussions, yes,” confirmed Pique in an interview with Mundo Deportivo released today.
“With the club things are very well. Everyone knows that I want to stay at Barcelona.
“Would I try another experience abroad before retiring? I do not know if I will, but I tried the adventure with Manchester United and I can say that there is nowhere quite like home.
“I spent four years away. Here I have family and close friends that I see every day.”
The centre-back, who also spoke of Lionel Messi’s injury and his chances of more Ballon d’Or success, considered Tata Martino’s adaptaion to life in Catalonia and if he has gotten used to the criticism he has received despite having not yet lost with the team.
“I have not spoken to him about it but I am convinced that these are things that he does not understand.
“He comes from another country, he gets results like these and he finds this. I am quite sure it is something he doesn’t get. Over time he will realise that this is a very unique place.
“Is he demanding? He is very demanding, and very critical, even if we win games. He is like the head of a company.
“When he is not happy with something, it is something that he expresses. He is very straightforward.
“He is reputed to talk a lot? Yeah, yeah, he also talks individually.”
Pique has also become prominent in the media in recent years for his off-field relationship with pop singer Shakira, with whom he has a child.
The player was asked if he has noticed, since starting this relationship, a change in how his performances on the pitch are criticised.
“For three years or so I have had the personal relationship that I have and I have had a child, and I feel that at the professional level it is a backpack that you always carry on your back.
“Any error in the field causes many people to direct their criticism at the personal side.
“Does my relationship with Shakira influence criticism of my game? It is inevitable. I accept the sporting criticism smoothly.
“I am the first to realise if I did or did not have a good game when I am in the dressing room. There is no need for me to read it.
“The other is a backpack that I will carry forever. My partner is someone who is well known in her field. I try to take it all naturally because I cannot control it.”
The 26-year-old considered if it also affects his other interests. The weekend saw him at the MotoGP in Valencia, whilst he is known to like poker.
“Life is short and there is only one. We have a limited time in which to do what we like. If Sunday I am recovering and want to go to the bikes that is two hours away, I’m not doing anything wrong.
“As for going to play poker one day, I am in a char and I am not smoking or drinking. I say this as it gets twisted. It does not affect my performance at all.
“I like it and not for betting with money, it is a card tournament. You cannot be alert to what people say all the time.
“I do what I want if I know that it does not affect me. I do not want to stop being the person I am because there are people that are bothered by what I do. As a player I am very professional.”