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Gerard Piqué's new role on the bench at FC Barcelona

It’s shocking to see Piqué on the bench. It’s shocking to see him and Jordi Alba, but at least Alba is playing. Piqué is doing nothing and has been seen watching games looking perplexed and sad. Seeing him like that provokes mixed reactions. On the one hand, there is the ‘he deserves it’. On the other hand, there are fond memories of the great player he was and we can’t help but hope he will be again. An imposing centre-back, a winner, strong but not aggressive, a good reader of the game, dangerous in the opponent’s area, important.

It was exciting to watch him in some of the games towards the end of last season, injured with a groin problem, standing up against rival attacks by sheer will and good positioning, doing his bit for his team and for his new coach. But at that moment it occurred to me whether, with a different life, different rest and a different dedication off the pitch, Piqué would not be in his current condition. I don’t know if Xavi would think the same, but the centre-back position has been the most improved since his arrival. Eric García, Andreas Christensen and Jules Koundé have all come in. Ronaldo Araújo is part of that defence, making Piqué the fifth choice centre-back. It’s a pity.

But there is also Piqué off the pitch. That kid who threw stink bombs, spat at a manager in the back, and showed off to a city policeman. A prophet of new technologies (what became of Periscope?), sponsor for Barça, working with Rubiales, creator of a new Davis Cup, president of Andorra and therefore president of Barça, and finally the target of paparazzi. It is a way of understanding football radically opposed to that of Xavi, who always practiced his profession like an exclusive priesthood.