Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is reportedly facing a decision as to whether or not to continue starting Gerard Pique in his line-up.
The 31-year-old has been a fundamental figure for the Catalan giants since returning to the club in 2008, going on to make 446 appearances in all competitions while playing a crucial role in their incredible trophy haul during that period.
However, he is no stranger to off-the-field controversies, with ESPN noting that the Spanish international’s latest issue comes over a driving charge last week.
According to Don Balon, the accumulation of these situations has led to Valverde coming under pressure from the hierarchy to drop the defensive stalwart from his line-up, while Sport echo that sentiment by suggesting that the club are concerned over Pique’s ongoing behaviour and decision-making off the field.
Provided that he continues to deliver at a high level on the pitch, it remains to be seen if Valverde keeps faith in his defender, or bows to the apparent pressure being applied to perhaps leave Pique out to avoid being dragged into the spotlight further.
Samuel Umtiti has established himself as a key figure alongside him, while summer signing Clement Lenglet could now offer serious competition if Pique does indeed drop out of the team.
With that in mind, the Barcelona boss undoubtedly has options to cover the absence, but whether or not it’s in the best interests of the side’s success this season must surely be considered the most important factor.
Pique remains an important figure at the back for the La Liga champions, and while he may well be advised to keep things quiet away from football moving forward, it would seem like a major risk and a silly one at that to leave such a talented player out.