Barcelona’s Gerard Pique announces sudden retirement

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has announced he will retire from football when the Spanish league breaks 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 following his return from Manchester United in 2008.

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Barça then travel to Osasuna next week for their final fixture before the World Cup in Qatar.

“For weeks it was about me,” Pique said in a video posted on social media. “I didn’t say anything but I want to talk now.

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

“Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about when I was younger, about what Gerard would have thought 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 captain the club. … Football gave me everything, Barca gave me everything, you the fans gave me everything. And now my childhood dreams are fulfilled, the moment came to close the chapter.

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

“I will become another fan again, I will support the team and transmit my love for the club to my kids, as they did with me. And you know me, sooner or later I will be back. See you at Camp Nou. Wiska Barca, always and forever.”

Pique’s grandfather was on the board at Barcelona, ​​and Pique joined the club’s academy in 1997 before leaving for Man 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 side, he returned to Barca in 2008.

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

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

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

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

However, after the 3-3 draw against Inter Milan last month, when Pique was singled out for criticism, left-back Marcos Alonso was used in front of him in defence, prompting him to consider retiring mid-season despite a contract deadline. 2024.

Barca told Pique in the summer that minutes would be difficult to come by this season as they look to continue or reduce the salaries of several veterans, including Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

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Pique, Busquets and Alba have all readjusted their salaries and agreed to reductions and deferrals on their wages at various points in recent years to help the club deal with a difficult financial situation.

However, with deferred payments, their salaries take a large chunk of Barça’s budget compared to how many minutes they have played under Xavi this season.

Sources contacted by ESPN were not immediately able to confirm whether Pique’s retirement meant he had agreed to give up the money owed to him or if an agreement had been negotiated with Barca.

Pique, who will be 36 in January, already has a number of other interests outside of football. Through his company, Cosmos, he revamped the Davis Cup tennis tournament, and he is also the owner of second division side Andorra.

He previously said that he plans to run for president of Barca when he retires, although he has suggested in recent years that it remains an option, it is not something he will definitely pursue.


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