Gerard Pique has said big changes are needed at Barcelona following their “humiliating” 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The 33-year-old defender, who has won 20 major titles over 12 years with the club, added that he would be “the first to leave” if the club wished it.
Friday’s loss was the heaviest Barca have suffered in Europe and ends a season that has also seen them lose the La Liga title to Real Madrid.
“We have hit rock bottom,” said Pique.
“This is not the first, nor the second, nor the third time. We are not on the right path.”
He continued: “Coaches and players follow one another, but it has been several years since we have been able to be competitive on a European level.
“We all have to think internally and decide what is best for the club, for Barca. Tonight was unacceptable for Barcelona.
“It’s very hard to take but I hope it will be useful for something, for us to all think about it.
“The club needs changes. And I’m not talking at the level of the coach or the players, but structurally the club needs changes of all kinds.
“We must bring in new blood to change this dynamic, and if necessary, I would be the first to leave.”
Barca have a presidential election in the summer of 2021, to seek a successor to incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Barcelona head coach Quique Setien was already under pressure heading into the quarter-final tie following a disappointing seven months in charge after succeeding Ernesto Valverde in January.
When asked about the future of the club and Pique’s comments, he responded: “I’m not going to talk about what is needed at the club. I’ve been here for just a few months.
“If Gerard says that it’s time for big changes there’s going to be importance to his words. It’s time for us to review and take the decisions which are needed for the future.”
When asked to address his own future at the Nou Camp, he said: “I think that right now it’s too soon to be talking about whether I stay at the club or not. The reality is that it doesn’t depend on me.
“It’s worth all of us working out what’s important and considering a wide range of things which correspond to a defeat of this importance and which is so painful.”
…what next after their humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich?
It was a night of utter humiliation for Barcelona as they went out of the Champions League after a crushing defeat to Bayern Munich.
Pundits labelled their 8-2 quarter-final loss “pathetic and embarrassing”, while Spanish football writer Guillem Balague said Barca’s proud heritage had been “thrown in the bin”.
Long-serving defender Gerard Pique did not hold back after the match, saying changes were needed – amid widespread reports boss Quique Setien, who has only been in the job since January, would be sacked.
What next for the five-time champions of Europe, once the most feared club side in the world?
Having finished runners-up to bitter rivals Real Madrid in La Liga, the pressure was already mounting on Setien, who is seven months into a two-and-a-half-year contract.
His chances of remaining in charge after his side’s capitulation in Lisbon are slim, with some reports circulating that Barca have already decided to sack him.
“He’ll be out, he won’t last,” said Chris Sutton, a Premier League winner with Blackburn Rovers, on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“You cannot be humiliated like this as Barcelona manager. And this is what it is – an absolute humiliation.”
Quique Setien led Real Betis to their highest finish since 2005 and to the Copa del Rey semis before leaving in the summer of 2019
Balague said it was unfair to lay all the blame with Setien, and said Friday’s surrender was the consequence of “many years of decline” at Barca.
“He was fourth choice when he was appointed,” Balague told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“This was his third game in the Champions League ever. But it was not his fault he was chosen and it is not fully his fault what is happening [at the club].
“Nobody has been intelligent enough to identify what is happening. Barcelona is so political and the players run the show.”
Spanish football writer Andy West said Setien is “certain to be fired”.
“Setien has not made many friends in the dressing room since his appointment in January, with key members of the squad – including Lionel Messi – reluctant to follow the significant tactical changes he was hoping to instigate,” he added.
Former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and ex-Everton manager Ronald Koeman have been linked with Barcelona.
Koeman, manager of the Netherlands since 2018, spent six years as a player at Barca between 1989-1995, while Pochettino has not had a job since being sacked by Spurs in November 2019.
“Pochettino is available and he is somebody who understands the side,” said Balague.
“Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Pochettino are friends.”
“Historical humiliation,” “Shame” and “End of shameful cycle” were some of the headlines on the front of the Spanish sports newspapers on Saturday
Sutton, who watched Barca’s humiliation as a summariser for 5 Live, said Barca’s team is full of ageing players.
He said eight-time La Liga winner Sergio Busquets, 32, did not “have the legs anymore” to be a commanding figure in midfield, while former Liverpool forward Luis Suarez is “not the player he once was”.
“I can’t ever remember a Barcelona team being humiliated like this,” added Sutton.
Luis Suarez joined Barcelona from Liverpool in July 2014
“This is embarrassing. They have got a lot of ageing players. Barcelona gave up and that’s totally unacceptable.
“Where is the leadership on the pitch? Something stinks from Barcelona’s point of view.”
Barcelona have not won the Champions League since 2014-15.
West said Bartomeu had to take responsibility for the club’s decline.
“To make things worse – and again this lies at Bartomeu’s door – the club is beset by severe financial problems which will make the task of strengthening in the transfer window almost impossible,” he said.
“In fact, Barça are looking to sell rather than buy and several senior players – including Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and maybe even Suarez – could leave in the coming weeks.
“The club is rotten to the core, and that starts at the top.”
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