Barcelona are undoubtedly going through a period of transition and for two of their veterans, it has come round the corner far quicker than perhaps they thought.
Last season Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique were crucial parts of the Blaugrana defence, at times sustaining the side through some tricky moments.
However in the opening four matchdays of La Liga, they have been relegated to bit-part roles. Alba started the first game of the season but since has only appeared off the bench, while Pique is yet to get on the pitch this season.
Speaking at the opening of a Padel tournament to Marca, former teammate and captain Carles Puyol was asked about their situation.
“I haven’t spoken with them. They are competitive players and winners. They have to train at their maximum, I am convinced the team will need them. They have to prepare themselves to perform when the team does need them.”
“How to confront the challenge of being a substitute depends on each person. But as the years pass, you change your perspective and you understand that from the outside you can also help.”
Puyol referenced his own struggles towards the end of his career, explaining that as a veteran he learned to sacrifice his own interests.
“If I didn’t play I could get angry but in my last year I was already telling Tata [Martino] not to play me and to play someone else. I believed that [Marc] Bartra needed more minutes in case I couldn’t play. I am sure that they [Pique and Alba] will look to do what’s best for the team.”
“I played a lot of matches injured, I forced it and you pay for that.”
Bartra ultimately was unable to replace Puyol but Javier Mascherano ended up reprising the role to a high standard.
Both Alba and Pique have two players to compete with in their positions, with Xavi Hernandez keen to emphasize that Barcelona are once again a meritocracy. It threatens to be a sudden downfall for two of Barcelona’s legendary defenders.