Gerard Pique is going through a turbulent period in his professional career at present.
Never before has he been subjected to an extended stay on the sidelines, but you'd have to say that manager Luis Enrique has been well within his rights to leave the elegant Catalan out of his first XI this season.
Even as far back as 2010, Pep Guardiola noted certain aspects of Pique's personality which included a lack of focus and concentration at times.
Things got so bad at one point that Pep famously hired a private detective company to follow Pique around town to determine his nocturnal habits.
Fortunately for Pique at the time, and throughout the tenures of Tito Vilanova and Tata Martino, there was never really any competition for his place.
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But that's all changed now. Marc Bartra is finally emerging from the shadows and has proved to be able in the role, whilst Jeremy Mathieu has almost become a fixture.
More options in central defence
The summer signing from Valencia has barely but a foot wrong and certainly warrants a regular berth. Javier Mascherano continues to deputise at the back with Enrique not keen on playing both the Argentine and Sergio Busquets in a double pivot type role.
Whilst a debut may be some way off for Thomas Vermaelen, his presence in the squad is still worth noting as it could force Pique even further down the pecking order.
Pique's decline has been steady but this season. In pass success terms, has been his worst for some while. WhoScored.com note that 87.2 percent is his lowest return since 2011, and evidences quite clearly how much Pique has dropped off of the pace recently.
Pique needs a talker alongside
Alongside Carles Puyol there was never an issue and it would appear that Pique benefitted from having the old warhorse barking orders week-in and week-out. The baton of responsibility has now passed over, and although it's not quite been dropped by Pique yet, his grip isn't at all secure.
There are still suggestions that his love of poker, and a penchant for supporting his wife in concert, even when that is thousands of miles away, is what's harming Pique's performances.
To play at the very highest level for Barca you need to be fully concentrated at all times, and we have seen many times already this season that Pique isn't prepared. In fact,we can go as far to say that, at times, he has been deeply unprofessional.
Using mobiles on the bench
During the Catalunya Cup game against Espanyol, whilst on the bench, he was even seen on his mobile phone, completely ignoring proceedings, per Metro. Hardly the behaviour of a top-level professional and an action which could be the straw that finally breaks the camel's back.
Shape up or ship out.
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