Barcelona defender Gerard Pique does not regret sparking a row with local rivals Espanyol in the wake of their Copa del Rey quarter-final win.
Speaking after the 2-0 second-leg victory last Thursday, which ensured a 2-1 aggregate triumph, Pique referred to Barca’s neighbours as “Espanyol de Cornella, implying they should no longer be considered a Barcelona club since their move to the Catalan municipality of Cornella de Llobregat.
Espanyol asked the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to investigate the remarks, accusing Pique of using “a clearly derogatory tone”, but the centre-back appears unrepentant.
“I don’t regret it and I don’t think I’ll talk about this topic,” he told a news conference after signing his new Barcelona contract. “I’m here for the career I’ve had at Barca and I want to enjoy it.
“I’m going to play on Saturday or Sunday and I’ll give you headlines in the mixed zone, if you like.”
Pique went on to use the example of basketball side Juventud de Badalona to support his comments, adding: “Juventud played this weekend at the Palau [the arena in Badalona]. They are Juventud de Badalona. Espanyol are from Cornella, that’s a no-brainer.”
However, the former Manchester United man believes he has mellowed somewhat this season when it comes to antagonising fierce rivals Real Madrid.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 29, 2018
“You will not see a word against Madrid, nor have I spoken about Madrid this season,” he said. “Sometimes you’re more involved in controversy and at other times you’re disconnected. I don’t know. We’ll see.
“To analyse it well, you’d have to be in both places. When things go well here, they’re not going well there. We’re going to enjoy it until the end of the season and we’ll see if we can win titles.”
Pique’s new deal will see him tied to Barca until the age of 35 and he has every intention of retiring at Camp Nou.
“I always had the feeling I was going to stay and I never considered another option. I hope to stay for life,” he said.
“Obviously I thought about my family and my kinds, who don’t want to move. I hope to keep being competitive until I retire, and I hope that’s here. It’s Barca or nothing.”
Despite enjoying a superb season for the LaLiga leaders, Pique says he still plans to call time on his international career after the World Cup in Russia.
“The most logical thing is to leave after the World Cup,” he said. “There are stages in life in which you have to bring things to a close because of motivation.
“The national team has given me a lot but it’s the normal thing to leave the national team when the World Cup ends.”
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