The will-he-won’t-he saga of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain may well be this summer’s biggest talking point.
Until Sunday evening that is, when all the noise, rumour and gossip around the potential world record move was silence by two simple words.
Gerard Pique’s social media post, picturing him with the Brazilian star with the simplest of captions, immediately alleviated fears among fans that Neymar’s move was imminent.
It would be naive to think that one picture immediately kills a transfer rumour dead on the spot, but what it does highlight is the growing influence of Pique as a Barcelona mouthpiece.
As a Barca Blaugranes article put it, when Josep Bartomeu (Barca’s President) said Neymar wasn’t leaving, everyone shrugged.
When Pique himself said it, everyone stood up and took notice.
Player power isn’t something to be taken lightly in the Barcelona set up, but it seems players themselves are far more likely to convince their team-mates to stay than those in the management hierarchy at the club.
Neymar reportedly had a two-hour meeting with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in an attempt to get him to stay at the club, but it was Pique’s picture that broke through the swamp of rumour and gossip.
On the pitch, Pique is undoubtedly vital for Barcelona’s success.
But it’s his increased power off it that seems to be standing him in good stead.
He hinted recently that he would like to become the club’s President in the future, and clearly works tirelessly off the field to advance Barca’s cause.
So much so in fact that he was publicly thanked by the club itself after Barcelona landed their huge £209million shirt sponsorship deal with Japanese online shopping giant Rakuten last November.
Pique, alongside his superstar wife Shakira, personally know Rakuten’s president Hiroshi Mikitani, and it was during a dinner in 2015 that the foundations were laid for the mega-money deal.
The shirt deal, which will see the club pocket £50million a year for the next four years, wasn’t kickstarted by the Barcelona hierarchy – it was Pique.
Influential? You bet. Powerful? Undoubtedly.
And while the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar will always be the shining lights on the pitch, Pique is no firmly placing himself to become one of the most known players in this famous side.
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