Gerard Pique believes his form at Barcelona has improved this season as a direct result of retiring from the rigours of international football with Spain last summer.
The 32-year-old has been instrumental in leading his side to the top of La Liga as well as the Champions League quarter finals and Copa del Rey final, in what has been another impressive season for the centre-half.
Since retiring in August, Pique has gone on to feature for the Catalonia national team, earning his tenth cap in Monday's 2-1 win over Venezuela. Speaking after the match (via Sport English), Pique said not featuring for Spain has benefited his form, as Barcelona chase a treble this season - with the defender having not missed a La Liga match all season.
"It's not just me, but others [who don't play international football], but it's obvious in my case I am performing better for Barça since I left [the Spanish team]," he said.
Spain manager Luis Enrique had urged Pique to reconsider his retirement, however, the ex-Manchester United man has stood firm on his decision that he won't be returning to the Spanish fold.
He added: "The decision has been made and I do not regret it. The people that don't want to understand it aren't going to understand [my international retirment] but I explained it all at the time.
"It was the right moment to leave the Spanish national team. I needed to rest. The Catalan national side only needed me for one day. The two things have nothing to do with each other."