Gerard Pique is enjoying something of a renaissance at present.
The elegant central defender is back to somewhere approaching his best form of a few seasons ago, which is a remarkable turnaround from earlier in the campaign.
In the early part of the season, Pique was unceremoniously dumped on the bench by Luis Enrique. His response? To be caught using his mobile phone during the Catalan Super Cup match against Espanyol.
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Enrique remains a disciplinarian at the best of times and if Pique thought he could take him on and win, he was swiftly put in his place. His treatment by the manager may have angered team mates but Enrique's stance was unequivocal. My way or the highway.
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Once Pique was given an extended run in the side, his concentration was total. Moreover, he at last seemed keen to take on the mantle left behind by Carles Puyol. Responsibility had never been Pique's forte but almost overnight we began to witness the change.
There has been the odd mistake of course, but for the last few months, Pique has been Barca's best defender by a country mile. In many games, and Celta Vigo and Real Madrid spring readily to mind, Pique's excellence at the back saved the game for the Catalans.
The question everyone is asking now is who will partner Pique each week. He is a fixture without question.
If every great team is supposedly built on a solid defence, then Pique remains its anchor. Watching him in such fine form must give confidence to either Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen when in situ.
Not yet a captain of the club, you feel that he is working his way up to that level, and is mature enough at this point to take on the added pressure that wearing the captain's armband would bring.
If Xavi leaves as expected, then there is a space for Pique to be one of the four club captains alongside Iniesta, Messi and Busquets. Given the improvement in his all round game, it's highly unlikely there will be an argument should it happen next season.
Lack of focus
Perhaps the biggest bonus for Enrique and the club is that everyone is talking about Pique's football again. After all, it wasn't so long ago that his relationship with Shakira was being blamed for a lack of focus in-game and a subsequent lack of prowess on the pitch.
How he would play poker late into the night and end up being followed home by private detectives employed by the club to supervise his nocturnal activities. Who cares about that now. We're potentially looking at Barcelona's player of the season.
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