NAPOLI-BARCELONA

Piqué: "In recent years, results have kept the club afloat"

The Barça centre-back spoke about the social media campaign and Bartomeu's explanation: "I believe him. I don't he knows anything about it, because he's hurt".

Piqué: "In recent years, results have kept the club afloat"
CIRO DE LUCA REUTERS

Gerard Piqué joined Quique Setién in looking ahead to tomorrow's Champions League Last 16 first leg tie against Napoli. The centre-back was also happy to answer questions about the delicate situation at the club - in spite of the team regaining top spot in LaLiga.

The Champions League returns on a special stage for Barça. There are plenty of reasons to feel motivated...

It's the first we will have played an official game at an historic stadium. It's something a little different. As a footballer, it's nice to try new things. Napoli have really come on during their last few games  - they didn't have a great start to the season but we are in for a difficult game. They've beaten Liverpool - and Juventus. We'll need to be alert to avoid any surprises.

It's been a strange week for Barça. How do you view the situation?

We just try to do our job - what matters at this club are result and in recent seasons, results have kept the club on an even keel. We know the responsibility we have. We know that calm won't be restored unless we get good results. But this game so important, we shouldn't be thinking about other things. We need to be focused, know what virtues Napoli have. It's a very important week for us.

Messi said that the team isn't at the level to win the Champions League...

In other years, we've reached this stage of the Champions League as being the favourites and we haven't won it. Maybe we aren't favourites this year but being Barça, we do have a chance. The most important thing is to take it step by step. First, we have to play Napoli. First we need to get through this tie and after that, we'll see. In recent seasons, there have been times when we've been in good form at this stage but delined later on in the tournament.

Your name appeared among those who were allegedly targetted in a slur campaign on social media, do that bother you? Were you reassured by Bartomeu's explanation?

I couldn't really tell you if I was bothered. I don't really care. At the end of the day, you cannot control what appears on social media. Everyone says what they like. From what I've seen, I believe him when he said he knew nothing about it because we had a meeting and he was clearly quite hurt by it all. It's something that has come out, gone viral, and since been resolved. Anything that isn't football-related will only harm us both tomorrow and for the future.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi in training session at San Paolo stadium this evening

For Me, Messi is the best - Piqué

The greatest - Maradona or Messi?

It's all been said. A unique player in the history of football, who made a huge contribution to the history of the game, who played for Barça and Napoli and who will be remembered forever. But if you ask me to choose between Diego and Leo, from I've seen from close quarters, for me it's all about Leo's consistency and the magic he produces every day.

Does Messi seem especially motivated about playing at the San Paolo?

I haven't spoken to Leo about playing here. I'd imagine that he'll be very happy to play in what is a new stadium for him, but the most important thing is making the next round. The stadium's history is great, but if we don't get a good result, no one will be happy.

Could you see Messi playing for Napoli one day?

You'd have to ask him as he's the one who in charge of his future. Personally, I'd like to see him retire here with us.

You say that the team's results have kept the club afloat, what exactly do you mean by that?

I'm not suggesting that things have been managed well or badly, that's for the club members to say. And besides, I don't have the information to say if things are being handled properly or not because one thing is what comes out in the press and another is the reality. But it's clear that if results aren't good then the pressure intensifies.