Barcelona defender Gerard Pique is set to retire this weekend at the age of 35.
The Catalan legend announced the shock decision on Thursday night on Instagram (opens in new tab) and will have his final match at Camp Nou against Almeria.
“I’ve always said that there would not be any other team after Barca and that’s how it will be,” he said. “Football has given me everything. Barca has given me everything. You, culers [fans], have given me everything.
Gerard Pique has played over 600 matches for Barcelona (Image credit: Getty)
“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.”
“You know me, sooner or later I will be back. I’ll see you at Camp Nou. Long live Barca. Always.”
Why is Gerard Pique retiring?
Pique did not give a specific reason for ending his career abruptly – though rumours have begun to swirl around the star’s decision.
Spanish football expert and LaLigaTV personality Guillem Balague says that Pique is willing to forgo around €40m that was due over the remainder of his contract, which was set to expire in 2024 but not what the club owes him from deferred payments during the pandemic.
Pique agreed to a paycut in 2020 in order for Barça to register new signings, such as Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay.
Gerard Pique’s pull on Kylian Mbappe signified a moment when the football world realised he was mortal (Image credit: Getty)
Barça’s failure to qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League could be one of the major reasons for the 35-year-old’s retirement – and not just from a financial point of view, which is a heavy burden on the Blaugrana.
Pique was at fault for one of the key goals in the side’s second match against Inter Milan, who qualified at their expense, while two seasons ago, Pique became a meme for his shirt-pull on Kylian Mbappe during a game against PSG. Perhaps with the World Cup approaching, the Spaniard sees now as the perfect time to bow out, knowing he’s no longer at the top.
Gerard Pique and Shakira with the Copa del Rey trophy at Camp Nou in 2015 (Image credit: Getty Images)
According to Balague, Pique may yet run for the Barcelona presidency. Pique owns Spanish second division club Andorra and is a businessman outside football – while another aspect of his personal life is much discussed right now, too. In June, Pique announced his separation from his partner, singer Shakira.
“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,” Ballague explained to the BBC (opens in new tab).
“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 anymore. 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.”
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