Pep Guardiola’s toxic relationship with Jose Mourinho played a part in his exit from Barcelona, according to Gerard Pique.
During a golden spell at Barcelona, Guardiola fashioned a team that played some of the greatest football ever seen.
The likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Pique swept all before them, dominating domestically and in Europe.
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Mourinho moved to Real Madrid in the summer of 2010 and set about creating a rivalry with Guardiola and his Barcelona team.
As the rivalry between the two clubs intensified, Pique felt it began to detract from what was happening on the field and had a detrimental impact on Guardiola to the extent that he left the club in 2012 and took a sabbatical.
Speaking to Gary Neville’s Overlap podcast, Pique offered up his thoughts on the rivalry between Mourinho and Guardiola.
“We were winning everything at the time and I remember that the first time Mourinho came to Camp Nou he lost 5-0 against us,” Pique said. “It was a shock of reality that these guys are going hard, but in the press conferences every time he was, you know his style, and I think that for Guardiola at some point it was too much.
"It was more important sometimes what happened off the pitch than on the pitch.
“Guardiola left. Madrid won the league that year and all of a sudden he decided to leave for so many reasons, but I am sure part of it was because with Mourinho it got too much.”
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Asked by Neville if Guardiola did not like how toxic things had gotten between the two clubs, Pique said: “I don’t think so.
“I remember the semi-final of the Champions League in the Bernabeu, he did an amazing press conference but it was not about football.
“He enjoys talking about what is happening on the pitch and here there was a moment where the press was focusing on what was happening outside the pitch.”
Pique felt Mourinho went down the route of antagonism as the players at his disposal were not as good as what Guardiola was working with - and said it impacted on relationships within the Spanish national side.
“Since he arrived, he knew that on the pitch they were weaker than us,” Pique said. “We had a better team for sure, and even the relationships between players.
“I remember going to the national team and after those games it was tough because Mourinho goes to the mind of the player and he says ‘these guys hate you’, then you believe that.
“I was in the dressing room of the national team and went to (Real Madrid goalkeeper) Iker Casillas ‘hey Iker’ and the guy did not talk to me.
“At that time I did not know, but it was the coach he really knows how to go into the mind.”
Following his break from football, Guardiola has enjoyed major success with Bayern Munich and currently Manchester City.
Mourinho left Real Madrid in 2013, before returning to Chelsea and guiding them to the Premier League title in 2015.
He had a mixed spell at Manchester United, struggled at Tottenham and is now at Roma where he is one win away from guiding the club to a major European title for the first time in their history.
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