I would put my hand in the fire for Guardiola to stay at Barcelona, claims Pique

There have been rumours of a falling out between the pair, but the centre-back, who was dropped for Saturday's Clasico, insists that his relationship with his coach is 'fantastic'
Gerard Pique has rubbished the suggestion that he has fallen out with Pep Guardiola, and revealed that he desperately wants the Barcelona boss to remain at Camp Nou beyond the end of the season.

The Blaugrana coach is out of contract in the summer and has yet to give any indication as to whether he will sign a new deal with the Catalans.

Pique, meanwhile, has been in and out of the Barca line-up in recent weeks and was dropped to the bench for Saturday's Clasico against Real Madrid, but the centre-back insists that his relationship with Guardiola is as strong as ever.

"I would put my hand in the fire for Pep to stay on," the Spain international told reporters at a press conference on Monday.

"Even though some people doubt it, my relationship with Guardiola is fantastic. We talk a lot more than people think.

"Being on the bench is a new experience for me, but it's the boss' decision and I have to respect that.

"Pep always has been tough on me, right from the first year. But I like it that way and people forget that Pep and I joined the first team at the same time, so we've both been a part of this beautiful era.

"I'm therefore confident that Guardiola will continue [with Barca] because he loves this club and this job."

Pique's sentiments were echoed by his father, Joan, who told El Mundo Deportivo: "There's no problem with Guardiola at all. Whether he's playing or not, Gerard supports the team."

Pique, of course, was speaking on the eve of the Catalans' crunch Champions League clash with Chelsea at Camp Nou, with the defending champions trailing 1-0 after last week's first-leg encounter at Stamford Bridge.

With Barca going into the game on the back of a devastating 2-1 loss to Primera Division title rivals Real Madrid, some pundits have claimed that the Blaugrana's era of dominance is coming to an end, but Pique finds such talk disrespectful.

"We, the team, have won a lot and we deserve more credit," the former Manchester United man argued.

"People talk so hastily about the end of an era but this team has won 13 of a possible 16 trophies, so I think we deserve a bit more respect.

"But there's not a single fan that doubts this team. I'm convinced that the fans are with us and that the Camp Nou will be full [against Chelsea]."

However, Pique conceded that Barcelona had not been at their best during this season's La Liga campaign and that some of the contentious decisions which have gone against the Catalans should not detract from the fact that Real Madrid are on the verge of clinching the title.

"They have had a very good season," he admitted. "They're not first because of the referees. We must congratulate them."

Pique also admitted that, on a personal level, he has dipped below the high standards he has set for himself in recent years.

"Of course, you always think you can do better, certainly because I demand a lot of myself ... And yes, this year could have been better," he confessed.

Pique, who has been capped 38 times by his country, returned to Camp Nou from Old Trafford in 2008 after leaving the club as a youngster to link up with the English outfit.