Gerard Piqué spoke to in the lead up to the Spanish Super Cup first leg between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The central defender discussed the match, and his now infamous ‘he’s staying’ tweet sent in respect of Neymar, now of PSG.
Piqué confident that Barcelona can win
How are you on the eve of El Clásico?
We’re good. We’re training well, training hard, and we’re confident that we can win the Super Cup.
Does playing against Real Madrid give extra motivation?
Tomorrow’s match is special, even more so because it’s in front of our people. We’ll have to play well to win. The return leg is on Wednesday, and the Super Cup will not be decided tomorrow.
'I knew Neymar was leaving when I wrote the tweet'
How is everyone digesting Neymar’s departure?
I don’t feel deceived. Now that it has happened, I can explain it all. At Messi’s wedding, I had an idea that he might leave. In pre-season, again, he said he would leave. When I wrote the ‘he’s staying’ tweet, I knew 100% that he was leaving.
I know that he has his reasons, they could be financial, or it could be to be the best player in the world. He shouldn’t be judged, he’s a brave player. He performed extraordinarily for us. The exact fee he came for will never be known [smiles], but he has left money in the till. We’ll have good memories of him.
You knew that Neymar wanted to leave as early as Messi’s wedding?
Yes. He told Daniel Alves.
Didn’t it occur to you to tell the club?
It isn’t our role to go and tell the club. If it was anyone’s place to say, it was Neymar, and if not, it had to be kept a secret. I don’t know if the club were aware. Me and various other players were told.
Has Neymar disappointed you?
He hasn’t disappointed me, and I don’t regret the ‘he’s staying’ tweet. Everything has a reason, and I wanted to use social media because that’s an instrument I have. I wanted to help the club, and at least I tried, even though I knew he had made his decision.
Do I understand this correctly… you said ‘he’s staying’ when you already knew he was going to leave?
Yes, you’ve understood correctly. I wanted the public opinion to make him change his decision. I’m not a journalist, nor a media outlet. I don’t break the news. I tried to, but it didn’t work. It’s like when you bluff.
Neymar hasn’t disappointed me. There are players who rebel, and he fought until the last second of the Real Madrid match. He was injured, but carried on playing.
We live in a world where people are sad. People like to criticise. Everyone criticises, everyone expresses anger, sadness. This has been shown by the criticism towards Neymar, his parents, and his friends. […] Everyone takes decisions in life, and they mustn’t be judged for it.
Liverpool and Dortmund 'taking advantage'
How do you feel about Dembélé and Coutinho being priced at over €100m?
They’re taking advantage of the situation we’re in… it’s a difficult time to sign players, no doubt.
Should Barcelona put its faith in the academy?
That would be another option. I’m not in charge of that job.
How difficult will it be to replace Neymar?
He’s a unique player. He has an ability to beat players one-on-one that nobody else in this sport has. We have to more than replace him, we have to make ourselves stronger. There isn’t a replacement for Neymar in the transfer market.
How do you feel about these sums of money changing hands for one player?
It’s not crazy, they’re numbers. When Madrid spent €60m on [Luis] Figo, they had a €200m budget.
What do you think about Rafa Márquez being accused by the American treasury of something as bad as drug trafficking?
I have no idea about that. I know Rafa and he’s a magnificent person.