Pique: Door open for unhappy players

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique suggests unhappy players should look to leave the club as it battles through its first slump of the season.

Wednesday’s comments came days after Cristian Tello and Marc Montoya said they could look to leave at season’s end if their minutes did not improve.

Pique says ”I understand Tello and Montoya, but this is Barca and we all fight for our starting place. The exit door is always open if you aren’t happy.”

Barcelona has lost two straight games, including for the first time in the Spanish league, heading into Saturday’s Copa del Rey match at third-tier Cartagena. Pique says the team is upbeat and ”looking ahead” despite the 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao: ”We’re playing better with each game, so we should feel confident.”

Barca’s first loss, a 2-1 defeat at Ajax in the Champions League last Tuesday, saw their 20-match unbeaten run under new coach Gerardo Martino come to an end – one short of matching the club’s best-ever start to a season. There was more disappointment for the reigning Spanish champions on Sunday as they slumped to a 1-0 league defeat at the hands of Athletic.

That result means Barca now only lead La Liga on goal difference from Atletico Madrid, while improving Real Madrid are just three points back having won their last five league games.

Nevertheless, Spain international Sergio Busquets is refusing to get overly concerned by their recent results, saying after the Athletic defeat: "There’s no need to be alarmed, we just have to carry on. We have to win the two (league) games that are left to play this year and learn both from our errors and the things we are doing well."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.