Alfonso Perez calls for Pique to quit international football over political beliefs

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Gerard Pique should make himself unavailable for international duty because of his political beliefs regarding independence for Catalonia, according to former Real Madrid and Barcelona player Alfonso Perez.

Pique has already confirmed he will retire from Spain duty after the 2018 World Cup, but Perez believes Pique's political views make his position with the national team untenable.

The Barcelona defender is on record as supporting a referendum on independence for Catalonia and he was previously criticised for appearing to cut the Spain flag off the sleeves of his kit.

Perez compared Pique to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who featured in friendly games for Catalonia during his playing career and has said independence for the region is inevitable.

"It would have been most honest if Guardiola, being such a Catalan, would have renounced the Spanish national team," Perez told Radio Marca.

"I'm not against the Catalans. My son was born in Barcelona and if I was radical he would have been born in Madrid or Seville. I have nothing against Catalans, but I do against those pushing for independence.

"Pique is in the same situation as Guardiola. What's happening is that he's playing at the moment and when the moment arrives he will position himself as radically as Pep Guardiola. He's positioned with independence in Catalonia."

Former Spain international Perez is one of the few players to have represented both Barcelona and Real Madrid, but the 44-year-old is clear where his loyalties now lie.

"I am honest and I've been Barca since I was young," Perez said. "In Valladolid we went to see Valladolid-Barca when I was nine and [former club president Josep Lluis] Nunez gave a friend of mine a banner, but not me, leaving me without one.

"When I went to Madrid at 13, I changed to Madrid and felt I identified with the team. Today I feel more identified with Madrid than Barca.

"The same thing happened with Guti and Raul, who were both Atletico Madrid supporters as kids, but professionally came to eventually love Real."