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Gerard Pique: Barcelona Great To Retire At Weekend After Final Game At Nou Camp

Gerard Pique won the World Cup with Spain and 30 trophies with Barcelona

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says he is to retire from football after his final game at the Nou Camp on Saturday.

The 35-year-old, who came through the ranks at Barcelona and had a four-year spell with Manchester United, made the announcement in a video posted on social media.

Barca will play Almeria in La Liga for Pique’s last match.

“I’ve always said that there would not be any other team after Barca and that’s how it will be,” he said.

Pique was a youth player with Barca until 2004 when he signed for Manchester United. He was a fringe player for the Red Devils when they won the Premier League and Champions League in 2007-08, and rejoined the Catalan giants in 2008.

During his time at Barcelona he has played more than 600 games and won 30 trophies, including eight La Liga titles, three Champions League trophies and seven Copa del Rey titles.

This season Barcelona have crashed out of the Champions League and are second in La Liga, one point behind Real Madrid.

Pique retired from international football in 2018 after winning 102 caps for Spain, and claimed the 2012 European Championship and 2010 World Cup.

He added: “Football has given me everything. Barca has given me everything. You, culers [fans], have given me everything.

“And now that all that kid’s [himself] dreams have come true I want to tell you I have decided that now is the time to bring this journey to its end.”

He also teased he would return to Barca’s famous ground, saying: “You know me, sooner or later I will be back. I’ll see you at Camp Nou. Long live Barca. Always.”

Barcelona’s financial crisis

Barcelona have debts of £1bn. In the summer Barca’s members – who own the club – voted in favour of allowing president Joan Laporta to execute some exceptional measures, which have become known as economic ‘levers’, in order to raise a significant cash injection.

However, many players including Pique were asked to take major wage cuts to aid the club.

But Barca failed to reach this season’s lucrative knockout stage of the Champions League and more cost-cutting may now need to take place.

Pique owns Spanish second division club Andorra and is a businessman outside football.

He is the founder and chair of Kosmos Tennis, who entered into a $3bn partnership with the International Tennis Federation in 2018.

In June, Pique announced his separation from his partner, singer Shakira, who he shares two children with.

According to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, he is willing to forgo about 40m euros that was due over the remainder of his contract, which ran until 2024, but not what the club owes him from deferred payments during the pandemic.

Pique plans to return as Barca president’

Analysis – Spanish football expert Guillem Balague

It is a surprise that Pique has done it now, but less if you think that he was being made a villain by the club, as his wages were so big and he was being pushed out to reduce the wage bill.

He’s the fifth-choice centre-back and he’s aware of that. Pique always said he would retire when he got to the point that he couldn’t give Barcelona any more. And he is also aware that legends at the club have left on bad terms when the club started to twist the narrative to make them the ‘baddies’ of the story.

The situation with the club’s president Joan Laporta was tense in recent times and coach Xavi had continued to play him only when it was completely necessary.

Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets all had big contracts, worth about 250m euros between them, some say. Busquets is going to Inter Miami so Alba will be the only one left. Pique has now left on his own terms and Laporta only learned a few minutes before the video came out. Pique kept it very, very quiet.

We now say goodbye to a legend who won everything, who has a huge responsibility for the appearance of possibly the best team in the world, and who was his own man in many ways – and not liked by everyone, including in his own changing room.

Now he will possibly go to the USA, to put his mind and life in order and build for a return… as a president of the club.

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