Gerard Pique picks his world XI - John Stones gets nod but there is one glaring absentee
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique did an in-depth interview with the Telegraph yesterday and chose his best world XI. While he picks himself, there is also one very notable name missing.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea, Manchester United
A team-mate of Pique's at international level for Spain, and one who has made a positive impression it would seem.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid
The only Real player in the team, Ramos is picked despite his infuriating behaviour in most Clasicos.
Centre-back: Gerard Pique, Barcelona
I hope Pique was told he had to pick himself, otherwise this seems a little arrogant.
Centre-back: John Stones, Everton
Do not adjust your screens, Pique believes Stones is one of the best three central defenders in the world. The Spaniard had this to say about Stones: “Rio Ferdinand and John Terry were the two main central defenders in England. Top-level,” he says.
“Now I think John Stones is a really, really, good player. He will have a good career. He’s like Rio, a bit. He’s young and alongside him they probably need one who is more experienced. Jagielka is injured. But Smalling is playing well at Manchester United.”
Defensive midfield: Sergio Busquets, Barcelona
Broke into the Barca team around the same time as Pique, and has since established himself as one of the finest holding players in the world. And one of the biggest irritants.
Central midfield: Paul Pogba, Juventus
The Frenchman is one of the hottest properties in world football, and could be linking up with Pique at the Nou Camp if Barcelona get their wish next summer.
Central midfield: Andres Iniesta, Barcelona
The current Barca captain, a legend for club and country and a mainstay in the Barca team since 2005.
Attacking midfield: Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea
Played with Pique at Barca between 2011 and 2014 before moving on to Chelsea, and a colleague with Spain.
In yesterday's interview, Pique hailed Fabregas's transformative effect on foreign players going to the Premier League.
He said: “I also remember when Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla arrived in England and people said ‘no, it’s not the same style of play’. But everyone loved it and now they are the stars of the league."
Wide forward: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Pique said that facing his team-mates Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in training is a constant learning experience. “It’s a challenge for you everyday,” Pique said with a smile. “It’s an opportunity to grow up as a player because every day you have to try to defend against them.”
Pique also said of Messi: "Leo Messi is the most complete player in the world – he can attack, defend, he can head the ball even though he is small."
Wide forward: Neymar, Barcelona
Pique cited Neymar's unselfishness in yesterday's interview as one of his many outstanding attributes. “The key of these three (Messi, Suarez and Neymar) is the relationship that they have,” he says.
“You can see that on the pitch. It’s magnificent. For example, when one is scoring a lot and the other is not scoring - Neymar, the other day, he gave the penalty to Luis Suarez. When you see this kind of attitude, it means a lot."
He added: "Neymar is the best one-on-one. He is unstoppable."
Striker: Luis Suarez, Barcelona
Pique was full of praise for Suarez yesterday, explaining that "his first touch in the box is fantastic" and citing his hard graft as key to the way Barca play.
Iker Casillas (Porto), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), David Silva (Manchester City), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)