Barcelona’s Gerard Pique announces sudden retirement

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has announced his retirement from football following the Spanish league break at this month’s World Cup.

Pique, 35, says Saturday’s game against Almeria in LaLiga will be his last at Camp Nou for the Catalan club after 14 years in the first team after 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.

“In the last weeks, months, people have been talking about me,” Pique said in a video posted on social media. “Until now I haven’t said anything, but now I want to be the one who talks about me.

“Like many of you, I’ve always been a Barcelona fan. I was born into a football-loving family. From a very young age, I didn’t want to be a footballer, I wanted to play for Barca.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about that boy lately. If he had been told that he would achieve all his dreams – that he would play for Barca, that he would win every possible trophy, that he would become European and World Champion.

“For him to play with the best players in history, for him to become one of the captains of the team. … Soccer has given me everything. You, the fans, have given me everything. And now my childhood dreams have come true, I want to tell you that I have decided that now is the time to complete this journey.

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

“I will be a regular fan, support the team and pass my love for the club on to my children, as my family did to me. And you know me, sooner or later I will be back. See you at 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 Man United in 2004.

He returned to Barca in 2008 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.

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

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

Pique was always involved 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 Kounde.

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

However, since last month’s 3-3 draw against Inter Milan in which Pique was picked off to criticism, left-back Marcos Alonso has been used ahead of him in defence, prompting him to consider retiring mid-season despite being under contract. 2024.

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

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

However, due to the deferral of payments, their wages take up a large portion 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 retirement meant he had agreed to waive the money he was owed or whether a deal had been negotiated with Barca.

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

He has previously said he plans to run for the Barca presidency after retirement, although in recent years he has suggested that while it remains an option, he certainly won’t pursue it.


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