Barcelona’s Gerard Pique announces sudden retirement

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

Pique, 35, says Saturday’s game against Almeria in LaLiga will be his last for the Catalan club at the Camp Nou after 14 years in the first team since 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’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’ve always been a Barcelona fan. I didn’t want to be a footballer, I wanted to play for Barca.

“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about when I was younger, about what Gerrard 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 be the captain of the club… Football has given me everything, Barca is everything to me, you, the fans, are everything to me. And now my childhood dreams have come true, the moment has come to close this department.

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

“Then I will become another fan, support the team and pass my love for the club on to my children, as they did to me. And you know me, sooner or later I will be back. See you at Camp Nou. Everything Barca, always and forever.”

Pique’s grandfather was on the Barcelona board and Pique joined the club’s academy in 1997 before moving to Man United in 2004.

After four years in Manchester, which included a season-long loan spell in Spain with Real Zaragoza and 23 appearances for England, he returned to Barca in 2008.

Under Pep Guardiola, he was part of the team that won the treble in 2008-09. 2018 season and he 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 the 2012 European Championship with Spain during a nine-year career, earning 102 caps during that time, before retiring from international football after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Pique was an ever-present in his first 14 seasons in the first team, but has been reduced this year following the signings of centre-backs Andreas Christensen and Gilles Kounde.

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

However, after last month’s 3-3 draw with Inter Milan, when Pique was criticized, left-back Marcos Alonso was used in front of him in defence, prompting him to consider a mid-season exit despite being under contract until The year 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 take a pay cut for some veterans, including Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

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

However, with deferred payments, their wages take up a large proportion 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 owed to him or whether an agreement had been reached with Barca.

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

He has previously said he plans to run for the Barca presidency when he retires, although in recent years he has indicated that, while it remains a possibility, he certainly won’t.



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