Barcelona’s Gerard Pique announces sudden retirement

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

Pique, 35, says Saturday’s game against Almeria in La Liga 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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Barca then travel to Osasuna next week for their final game before the World Cup in Qatar.

“I have been talked about for weeks,” Pique said in a video posted on social networks. “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 fan of Barcelona. I didn’t want to be a footballer, I wanted to play for Barça.

“I’ve been thinking a lot lately, when I was younger, what Gerard would have thought if I told him that he would fulfill all his dreams, that he would play for Barcelona and be a European champion and of the world.

“That he would play with the best players, that he would be captain of the club… Football has given me everything, Barça has given me everything, you fans have given me everything. And now my childhood dreams have come true , the moment has come to close this chapter.

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

“I will become another fan afterwards, I will support the team and pass on the love for the club to my children, as they did to me. And you know me, sooner or later I’ll be back. See you at Camp Nou. Whiskey 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.

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

Under Pep Guardiola, he was part of the team that won the treble in 2008-09 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 he won 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 has dropped down the pecking order this year following the signings of centre-backs Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde.

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 last month, when Pique was singled out for criticism, left-back Marcos Alonso has been used opposite him in defence, prompting him to consider a mid-season retirement despite having a contract until 2024.

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

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Pique, Busquets and Alba have all rearranged their wages 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 deferred 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 were not immediately able to confirm whether Pique’s retirement meant he had agreed to waive the money owed to him or whether a deal had been negotiated 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 second-tier Andorra.

He has previously said he plans to run for Barca president after 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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