'Not much is going to change' - Barcelona boss Xavi bullish after Pique retirement

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Barcelona boss Xavi says "not much is going to change" following Gerard Pique's retirement, with the Blaugrana squad prepared to play their part in filling the void left behind by the defender.

The veteran centre-back abruptly announced his retirement from the professional game last week, before bowing out on a winning note with a 2-0 victory in LaLiga over Almeria.

Pique departed in the 84th minute to a standing ovation, bringing the curtain down on a near-decade-and-a-half stay with the club, where he originally began as a junior before moving to Manchester United.

Asked how Barca intended to alter their side following his exit, Xavi was adamant there would be little difference within the team, noting they will pull together to counter his absence.

"Not much is going to change," he stated. "Everyone has their leading role in the team.

"We're going to miss Gerard but [the departure of long-term players] has always happened. When somebody has left, the rest have been relocated."

Elsewhere, Xavi further touched on the form of Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele, two wingers with contrasting fortunes this term at Camp Nou.

The Brazilian, signed from Leeds United ahead of the campaign, has yielded only one goal in a dozen LaLiga appearances, while the Frenchman looks to have rediscovered his form with four in 13 top-flight games, along with five assists.

On Raphinha, Xavi added: "He has total confidence on our part. Sometimes things don't turn out the way you want, but you have to keep working. We believe in him a lot, and I'm sure the goals will come.

"As for Dembele, he's making a difference. His numbers have changed. He is being important, and he is feeling that way too.

"He is happy, and he has grown a lot. He lacks consistency, but because of his talent and skill, he has everything to be the best in the world."