Pep Guardiola insists Gerard Pique is untouchable at Barcelona

The 41-year-old has stressed that the centre-back is still a key player for the Catalans and revealed that he didn't feature on Tuesday in order to keep him fit for the weekend
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola insists that Gerard Pique is still a key player for the Blaugrana despite his exclusion from the match squad in Tuesday's 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.

The centre-back did not feature in the first leg of Barca's round of 16 tie with the Germans, but Guardiola stressed that his omission had nothing to do with his relatively disappointing performances in recent weeks.

Instead, Guardiola has stated that Pique was rested ahead of this weekend's Primera Division clash at home against Valencia.

"On Saturday we don’t have [Javier] Mascherano or [Dani] Alves, so I couldn’t afford to lose Gerard," Guardiola said during the post-match press conference.

"I called up [Marc] Bartra because we needed him and I wanted him to be on the bench. Pique knows that I have lots of love for him. For us, he’s untouchable."

Sunday's encounter between Barcelona and Valencia at Camp Nou kicks off at 21.30CET.