Barcelona’s Gerard Pique announces sudden retirement

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has announced he will retire from football when the Spanish league is suspended for the World Cup this month.

Pique, 35, says Saturday’s match against Almeria in LaLiga will be his last at Camp Nou for the Catalan club after 14 years in the first team since returning from Manchester United in 2008.

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Barca then travel to Osasuna next week for the final match before the World Cup in Qatar.

“I’ve been talked about for weeks,” Pique said in a video posted on social media. “I haven’t said anything, but I want to talk now.

“Like many of you, coming from a football family, I have always been a Barcelona fan. I didn’t want to be a footballer, I wanted to play for Barca.

“Recently, I thought a lot when I was younger, what would Gerrard think if I told him that he would fulfill all his dreams, that he would play for Barca and be a European and world champion.

“That he would play with the best players, that he would be captain of the club… Football gave me everything, Barca gave me everything, you fans gave me everything. And now my childhood dreams have been fulfilled. the time has come to close this chapter.

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“I always said that after Barcelona there will be no other team and that’s how it will be. Saturday will be my last game at Camp Nou.

“I’ll be another fan after that, I’ll support the team and pass on my love for the club to my kids, like they did to me. And you know me, sooner or later I’ll be back. See you at the Camp Nou. Visca Barca, always and forever.”

Pique’s grandfather was on the Barcelona board and Pique joined the club’s academy in 1997 before leaving for Manchester United in 2004.

After four years in Manchester, which included a season-long loan back in Spain with Real Zaragoza, and 23 first-team appearances for the English club, he returned to Barca in 2008.

Under Pep Guardiola, he was part of the team that won the treble in 2008-09 and will leave having won eight LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues, among many other trophies.

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He also won the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship during a nine-year career with Spain in which he won 102 caps before retiring from international football after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Pique has been an ever-present in his first 14 seasons with the first team, but has fallen down the pecking order this year following the signings of centre-backs Andreas Christensen and Jules Conte.

Despite being fifth choice in his position, with Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia also ahead of him, Pique has made nine appearances in all competitions so far this season due to injuries elsewhere.

However, after the 3-3 draw against Inter last month, when Pique was criticized for criticism, left-back Marcos Alonso was used ahead of him in defence, prompting him to consider a mid-season retirement despite the fact that he had a contract until 2024.

Barca had told Pique in the summer that minutes would be difficult to come by this season as they looked to either move on or cut the wages of some of the veterans, including Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

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Pique, Busquets and Alba have all had their wages adjusted and agreed to pay cuts and deferrals at various points in recent years to help the club deal with a difficult financial situation.

However, with the late payments due, their wages take up a large chunk of Barca’s budget compared to how many minutes they have played under Xavi this season.

Sources contacted by ESPN could not immediately confirm whether Pique’s departure meant he had agreed to waive the money owed to him or whether a deal had been reached with Barca.

Pique, who will turn 36 in January, already has a number of other interests outside of football. Through his company, Kosmos, he has revamped the Davis Cup tennis tournament and also owns Andorra’s second division.

He has said in the past that he intends to run for Barca president once he retires, although in recent years he has suggested that while it remains an option, it is not something he will definitely pursue.



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