Barcelona star Gerard Pique could reportedly quit the national team amid growing tension generated in Spain following his vocal support for the referendum on Catalan independence held on Sunday (1 October).
AS says that sources from the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) are not ruling out Pique "withdrawing from international duty before Friday" after pointing out that his relationship with Real Madrid star and national team captain Sergio Ramos is now "definitely broken".
Meanwhile, Marca claims Pique's place in the national team "hangs in the balance" with the atmosphere in the Spanish camp having become "unbreathable" ahead of the two final World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel.
Pique has been whistled at and jeered by the Spanish supporters at homes games in recent years.
However, in those cases it was believed that criticism towards the Barcelona star came mostly from Real Madrid fans due to his frequent controversial comments made against Los Blancos.
However, this time the tension has moved to another level after the Barcelona centre-back publicly declared himself in favour of a referendum on Catalan independence that is considered illegal – as Spain's democratic constitution of 1978 states "the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation".
Spain sent the national police and Guardia Civil to Catalonia on Sunday to prevent a vote which ended in chaos and violence.
The Barcelona board decided to play Sunday's game against Las Palmas behind closed doors in order to express their "disagreement" over La Liga's decision not to officially postpone the game.
Pique, speaking after the game, criticised the Spanish government and the police before admitting that he was ready to retire from international football if his support for Catalonia's independence referendum is deemed a problem.
"It was the hardest game to play. The board tried to suspend the match, but it wasn't possible. We debated it and the club decided we should play. It has been a tough day, the images of the police and the Guardia Civil speak for themselves. I am and I feel Catalan, today more than ever. I am proud of the behaviour of the people of Catalonia. Voting is a right that must be defended," the Barcelona star said.
"I know that there are people in Spain who condemn what has happened and believe in democracy. If the manager or any director of the Federation thinks that I am a problem for the national team, I will step aside before the World Cup."
Spanish boss Julen Lopetegui met with the Pique on Monday to discuss his commitment to the national team and together they decided the Barcelona star will remain in the camp.
"I don't go in and out of ideas. Gerard's behaviour is exceptional," Lopetegui said to COPE on Monday night. "I wanted to know how he was and I've seen him willing and motivated. He is well and motivated. If it were not so, he wouldn't be with me."
However, AS says that sources at the Spanish football federation believe that his continuity in the national team remains up in the air ahead of Friday's clash with Albania.
Many Spanish fans urged the Barcelona star to quit during the Monday's training session in Madrid, whistling and insulting him before Lopetegui was forced to stop the open-door workout after only 23 minutes on the field.
But AS claims that it is not only the supporters who are unhappy with Pique, but also some members of the dressing room, with his relationship with Real Madrid star Ramos broken.
"We will see if he resists the pressure and does not withdraw from the camp. Ramos already warned him last week that his tweets did not help to appease the environment and Pique not only ignored his advice, but has gone further (as the Barcelona star continued tweeting against the Spanish government on Monday)," sources from the RFEF said according to AS.
"Although he is a great player, at this moment, he subtracts more than add to the national team. His presence in Alicante [against Albania] can be unbearable for the national team. That's not positive for Spain in their hope to beat Albania, something which will be decisive to qualify for the World Cup. His resignation before Friday can't be rule out."
Spain currently lead Group G by three points ahead of Italy, meaning that they need only four points from their final two games to confirm qualification for Russia 2018.