Once regarded as one of the world’s best centre-back, Barcelona's Gerard Pique himself admits his recent performances have been nowhere near his best, but vows to improve.
It hasn’t been the most fruitful of seasons for Pique. As a man used to winning and often doing so, him and his Barcelona side endured a dry spell as they had to watch Madrid’s big boys hog the top honours.
There was further disappointment to follow in Brazil, as Spain crashed out of the World Cup in embarrassing fashion, losing heavily to Holland and Chile.
Pique: I'm not one of the best
And after such a poor 12 months, Pique can no longer regard himself as one of the world’s best centre backs.
“Right now I’m not even top three in the world,” Sport reports Pique as saying. “I can’t be for the season I had with Barca and the World Cup with the national team.
“I know that to play at Barca I have to be among the top three in the world.
“I also know that I can regain form and I will do. But if I can’t live up to the highest standards, I’m the first to raise my hand and say I can’t.
“I’m convinced that Enrique will help me and I’ll get my level up again.”
Whilst Pique places a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders, he was not the only player at fault. He was part of a back-four that under-performed horribly throughout the season.
Barca are far from dead
“It was a failure,” he added when asked about last season. “Barca only won the Spanish Super Cup. We failed in the Copa and the League ended up worse,” he continued.
“But it’s clear that if we can improve we will be close to the trophies, if done with humility and hard work. Barca have the ingredients to do something great.”
Pique and Barcelona seemed to be at their best when the 27-year-old was partnered by club legend Carles Puyol. The 36-year-old, now retired missed much of the season with a knee injury.
Alongside Pique for much of the season was makeshift centre-back Javier Mascherano and Marc Bartra.
But Barcelona seem intent on bolstering their defensive options, and have already signed Jeremy Mathieu from Valencia, with further signings in the pipeline.
Perhaps with a solid experienced centre-back alongside him, Pique can begin to show some of the form that put him amongst the world’s best.