Spanish World Cup star Gerard Pique on Thursday told reporters that he would prefer to talk about football than discuss his burgeoning romance with singing superstar Shakira.
The 24-year-old Barcelona centre-back has become the focus of intense media attention in Spain this week after pictures of him hand in hand with the 34-year-old Colombian singer were published in gossip magazines.
"I'd like it if people only talked about me from a sporting perspective but I get the impression that, ultimately, it's inevitable," said Pique during a press conference at Barca's training centre.
"I think that the other aspect sells more."
He added: "I accept that people can criticise me for sporting reasons but what I don't like is when they use an easy excuse and say that my performances are affected by my private life.
"If we're here it's to talk about football."