“ Tell me, who retires midway into a new season? I am sure Xavi and his boss planned this all along to send Pique parking”
This is one of the arguments that has been brought forward upon Gerard Pique’s sudden decision to leave Barcelona and call it quits on his football career. It raises the question, how true is this conspiracy?
With two starts in 6 Champions League games and three starts in 12 La Liga games for Barcelona, you might say that Xavi has forced Gerard Pique into early requirement because of lack of game time. But does that tell the whole story?
The reason behind his lack of game time is not due to a personal grudge Xavi has against him but because Pique has reached a declining juncture in his career.
Pique in his prime was one of the best central defenders in Europe. Having moved back to Barcelona in 2008, Pique has been one of the first names on Barcelona’s team sheet for the past 14 years. His partnership with Carlos Puyol will go down as one of the best center-back pairings in the club’s history.
With his ball-playing ability, Pique has proven to be one of the best graduates from La Masia. In his prime, Pique had an excellent aerial presence and was very athletic serving as the sweeper on the team. His sweeping ability earned him the nickname Piquenbauer due to his similarity with German legend Franz Beckenbauer. Pique’s signatory sliding tackle corroborates how good a sweeper he was. But then, everyone has a melting point.
What we have seen recently of Pique has been as calamitous as the fall of the Naira. While he still possesses his ball-playing ability, he has lost every other ability that made him a top-class defender. He has been more prone to errors with his untimely sliding tackles, and opposition forwards leaves him for dead with their blistering pace. His shocking performance against Inter Milan is enough evidence to show that Pique was done playing top-level football.
Pique must have looked at that Inter Milan’s performance and told himself “ oh boy, it is time to go home!” Plus losing his place to Eric Garcia, and Marcus Alonso, players who wouldn’t lace Pique’s boots in his prime must have prompted him to call it a day on his career. But there is more.
Gerard Pique’s retirement is not untied to the financial mess of Barcelona. You would be speaking nonsense if you spoke about Barcelona without talking about their financial mess.
Due to Barcelona’s financial predicament, Pique in his magnanimity had taken a pay cut and has had his wages deferred before now. His retirement would mean that Barcelona would be saving £44million.
The point here is that Pique knowing he was no longer in Xavi’s plan must have thought that he would be doing Barcelona a great service if he retired and save them from more financial trouble. History won’t forget this laudable move from the former Spanish International.
He could have left to play in Major League Soccer or other farmer’s league to play the senior man character just like a lot of his colleagues have done in the past.
He however stuck to his promise of not playing for any other club after his days at Barcelona. He was once quoted to have said
“I’ve always said that there would not be any other team after Barca and that’s how it will be”
He would be remembered for his sacrifice on and off the field and nothing gives me more joy than the fact that he would have the privilege to say his BYE in front of Barcelona at a fully-packed Camp Nou.
While Xavi being the manager of Barcelona and Joan Laporte might have indirectly affected Pique’s decision, you will agree with me that this was the best decision for the player and the club considering the surrounding circumstances.