Carles Puyol's departure from Barcelona this summer will leave some big shoes to fill, and it appears to have taken its toll on central defensive partner Gerard Pique.
Pique, 27, has been a fixture at the heart of the defence along with Puyol since his return to Barcelona in 2008.
After the 35-year-old announced his departure in a brief conference on Tuesday, Pique took to social media to pen an emotional open letter to his teammate.
He writes on his Facebook page:
You were my guardian angel.
The day has arrived. You are leaving. It’s the law of life, but it is tough for me to imagine Barça without you. If I look back and remember Paris or Rome, the first image that comes to my mind is you lifting the European Cup. You gave the honour of lifting the trophy in Wembley to Abi, which just makes you even greater. My generation and those that come after do not know what the club will be like without Puyi in defence branding the captain’s armband and the number 5 on the back of his shirt. I think that nothing will ever be the same.
I met you 6 years ago. You were the captain and the emblem of the team and I was just a kid arriving, set on conquering the world. From day one we had a great relationship, both on and off the field. By your side I felt protected and I knew that if one day I made a mistake you’d always be there to save me. You were my guardian angel.
I know that I will miss our talks in the locker room, your advice and especially you giving us hell on the pitch. You are unique; a one-off. I find it amusing when they talk about signing “the new Puyol”. They can look all they want, but they’ll never find it.
Thanks for everything, Puyi.