Gerard Pique, while having retired from club football a couple of months back, knows how to remain on the newspaper front pages. The media still loves his controversy-stirring comments, as it did when he was actually playing, and especially when the Barcelona – Real Madrid rivalry was at its peak, a decade ago.
In a recent appearance, Pique was asked about his dream 2022 team. His response included the names of:
GK: Thibaut Courtois
Defenders: Alphonso Davies, van Dijk, Upamecano, Hakimi
Midfielders: Casemiro, Pedri, Gavi
Forwards: Mbappé, Benzema, Messi
While some of these names justify themselves, others stirred controversy, as is almost always the case with these kind of dream teams. Courtois played a key part in Real Madrid winning the double, but naming a direct rival in his dream team was always going to be controversial, especially keeping in view the fact that Ter Stegen himself was no slouch last season.
Similarly, Araujo and Kounde did not make a part of Pique’s team for last season, as he went for Van Dijk and Upamecano in the center of the defense. The opinion also seems divided upon Davies and Hakimi, but Hakimi’s world cup and Davies league form justify these selections.
Selecting Casemiro in the team was perhaps the most peculiar choice, as he is often overshadowed by his extremely talented former partners in midfield, Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric. Still, there are few players who can better Casemiro in the defensive side of midfield, and thus his presence in Pique’s XI makes sense. Pedri and Gavi both exploded last season, and being teammates of Pique last season, and easily explained.
Benzema was another controversial choice, as Lewandowski himself had a great season last year, but still, Benzema’s exploits in La Liga and the Champions League put him head and shoulders above any other footballer. Mbappe also had a phenomenal World Cup and league season, which more than covered for his early exit from the Champions League, and thus makes sense for being named in the best XI for last year.
The most surprising name in the list remains that of Lionel Messi. Since Messi has moved to Paris, rumors have been circulating that Gerard Pique Pique is not in the Argentine’s good books, and that relationship of these two long-term associates was almost entirely broken.
Furthermore, while Messi, at last, won the World Cup, and also had a spectacular league season, other players like Salah and Vinicius Junior could easily have been named ahead of him on the list. However, Pique’s naming Messi in his best XI could be another turning point in their relationship or could be a sign of things to have already improved between the two.