Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has announced he will retire from football when the Spanish league takes a break for the World Cup this month.
Pique, 35, says Saturday’s game against Almeria in LaLiga will be his last at the Camp Nou for the Catalan club after 14 years in the first division 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.
“It’s been weeks since I’ve been talked about,” Pique said in a video posted on social media. “I haven’t said anything yet but I want to now.
“Like many of you, coming from a football family, I have always been a Barcelona fan. I didn’t want to be a footballer, I wanted to play for Barca.
“Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about when I was young, what Gerard would have thought if I told him that he would fulfill his dreams, that he would play for Barca and become a European champion and the world.
“That he would play with the best players, that he would be the captain of the team. … Football gave me everything, Barca gave me everything, you the fans give me everything. And now my childhood dreams have come true, the time has come to close this chapter.
“I’ve always said that after Barcelona there won’t be another team and it will be like that. Saturday will be my last game at Camp Nou.
“I will be another fan after that, I will support the team and pass my love for the team on to my children, as they did with me. And you know me, I will soon be back. I’ll see you at Camp Nou. Visca Barca, always and forever. “
Thank you, you gave us a name. pic.twitter.com/k3V919pm1T
– Gerard Pique (@3gerardpique) November 3, 2022
Pique’s grandfather was on the board of Barcelona, and Pique joined the club’s academy in 1997 before moving to Man United in 2004.
After four years in Manchester, which included a long-term loan in Spain with Real Zaragoza, and 23 first-team appearances for the English club, he returned to Barca in 2008.
Under Pep Guardiola, he was part of the team that won the treble in 2008-09 and has gone on to win eight LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues, among many other honours.
He also won the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship during his nine-year spell with Spain, during which time he won 102 caps before retiring from football after the World Cup in 2018 Russia.
Pique was consistent in his first 14 seasons with the first team but has fallen steadily this season following the signings of midfielders Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde.
Despite being fifth choice in his place, with Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia also ahead of him, Pique has made nine appearances in all competitions so far this season due to injuries elsewhere.
However, after the 3-3 draw against Inter Milan last month, when Pique was accused of criticism, left-back Marcos Alonso was used in front of him in defence, which which made him consider quitting his job in the middle of the year even though he has a contract until. 2024.
Barça had told Pique this summer that minutes would be hard to come by this season as they wanted to keep or reduce the wages of other strikers, including Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.
Pique, Busquets and Alba have all changed their salaries and have agreed to take cuts and pay cuts at various points in recent years to help the club deal with difficult financial conditions.
However, with deferred payments, their wages take up a bigger part of Barca’s budget compared to the number of minutes they have played under Xavi this season.
Sources in contact with ESPN could not immediately confirm whether Pique’s retirement means he has agreed to pay what he is owed or if a deal has been negotiated with Barca.
Pique, who will turn 36 in January, already has many other interests outside of football. Through his company, Kosmos, he renewed the Davis Cup tennis tournament, and is also the owner of Andorra’s second team.
He has previously stated that he plans to run for the Barca presidency once he retires, although in recent years he has hinted that while it is still an option, it is not something he will pursue.