Gerard Pique calls on Barcelona to “focus on football”

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique called for his side to focus on football matters on the pitch and not those engulfing the club off it.

The team have won four successive matches in La Liga to return to the top of the table above Real Madrid, whom they meet in a key El Clasico match on Sunday.

Before that, Quique Setien’s side travel to Napoli for the first leg of their Round of 16 Champions League match in what could be a season-defining week for the club.

The upturn in fortunes on the pitch have coincided with a potential institutional crisis off it, with a series of reports emerging to damage the club’s image amid internal conflicts.

Earlier this month, Lionel Messi hit out at interviews carried out by sporting director Eric Abidal, who had accused players of lacking effort, hence the club dismissing Ernesto Valverde in January.

There were then reports that club president Josep Maria Bartomeu had paid a third party to promote messages online which were de facto attacks on a number of individuals connected to the club – including Pique and Messi.

“We are focused on what we can control, which is football, Pique told a pre-match press conference, as cited by ESPN.

“In recent years, what has happened on the pitch has been very important for this club. Results have always sustained the club.

“Everything else is a lot of noise and when a club like Barca goes through moments of weakness, it leaves the players less protected. So we know the responsibility we have. If the team works, if the results are good, we know the financial results or whatever else is going on at the club won’t matter. What people want is to see Barca win and that’s in our hands.”

Speaking specifically about the claims that Pique was one of the targets of attacks allegedly sanctioned by club president Bartomeu, Pique added: “I don’t really care that my name appeared.

“I believed the president’s explanation, at least that he didn’t know [what was going on]. He was really affected by it in the meeting with us. Now let’s turn the page. Anything that’s not to do with football damages us.”

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