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'I'm performing better for Barcelona since I left Spain' - no regrets for Pique over international exit

The star defender announced his retirement after last year’s World Cup.

Pique celebrates a goal for Barcelona during their Champions League clash with Lyon.
Pique celebrates a goal for Barcelona during their Champions League clash with Lyon.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

BARCELONA DEFENDER GERARD Pique has no regrets about retiring from international football, claiming that his club form has improved since leaving the Spain set-up.

Pique announced his international retirement shortly after the 2018 World Cup after the Barcelona man had won 102 caps for his country and lifted a World Cup and European Championship during his time playing for the national team.

His final game for the former world champions was in the World Cup second round against hosts Russia, where Spain were eliminated via a penalty shootout.

Pique believes he picked the right time to hang his boots up as he wanted to focus on prolonging his club career, which has gone from strength to strength since he took his final bow as a Spain international.

“The decision has been made and I do not regret it.” Pique told Sport.

He added: “The people that don’t want to understand it aren’t going to understand [my international retirement] but I explained it all at the time. 

It was the right moment to leave the Spanish national team. I needed to rest.”

Eyebrows were raised when Pique appeared for the unofficial Catalonia national team on Monday as they played Venezuela, winning 2-1.

Pique made his 10th appearance for the Catalonian team in that game but he is adamant that this does not signal a return to the international stage.

“The Catalan national side only needed me for one day,” he said. “The two things have nothing to do with each other.” 

Pique has been in fine form for Barcelona this season. He has not missed a league game and feels the rest he gets during international breaks is helping him maintain his good form. 

It’s not just me, but others [who don't play international football], but it’s obvious in my case I am performing better for Barca since I left [the Spanish team].”

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Spain were in action twice over the past week, beating Norway 2-1 and Malta 2-0 to make a solid start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign as the national team look to usher in a new era.

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