Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique has propelled his status from United reject to arguably one of the best defenders in the world over the past 6 years, and lifting the World Cup this past weekend with Spain has only enhanced the defender’s reputation further.
The 23-year-old Spaniard started his career in Barcelona’s youth academy in 1997 and was primarily a defensive midfielder before being converted into a centre-back. Pique continued his development up until 2004, but before signing his first professional contract with Barca, the defender opted for a move to Premier league titans Manchester United, which cost the Red Devils nothing in fees due to the player’s age at the time. However his decision to leave Barcelona proved a costly one.
The defender made a total of 10 appearances in his first 2 years at the club, and made none in his third. Instead the Spaniard was offloaded on a season long-loan to Real Zaragoza in the 2006/07 season where he managed to make a better total in one year in Spain than he ever did in England. In the 2007/08 season, Pique made a further 9 appearances in the colours of United before eventually being sold back to Barcelona (for an undisclosed fee) in the summer of 2008.
His time in England proved to be a waste of time. In his 4 year spell at United, the Spanish international accumulated a total of 23 appearances and was regarded by many fans and pundits alike more as a reject than a flop at the Manchester club.
Returning back to Barcelona in 2008 was the best decision of Gerard Pique’s professional career. Since his return, the centre-back has steadily cemented a regular first-team place alongside Carlos Puyol in the Barca back-line, and has regained his confidence which went missing in England. So far the Spaniard has had two solid seasons for Barcelona notching up a total of 94 appearances for the Catalan club and in doing so has already achieved a number of honours. Pique lifted the Primera League title, Copa Del Rey and the Champions League trophy all in the 2008/09 season. Furthermore, the centre-back also aided the club to a UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup success in 2009 as well as lifting the Primera League title last season. The Spaniard has impressed immensely in Europe and domestic competitions which no doubt earned him a shot in the Spanish national squad.
Pique featured in every World Cup game this summer for his country, and performed exceptionally well considering the player’s age. The centre-back was a solid performer throughout the tournament, and along with his club team-mate (Carlos Puyol) beside him, Pique certainly showed he is no flop, but a world beater.
The defender has completely turned his career around in the past 2 years. Gerard Pique is now considered by many football fans around the globe (including me) amongst the best in the world at what he is paid to do. The Spanish international may always be remembered as a United reject, which may be warranted, but Pique is far from this these days. At 23 years of age, Gerard Pique can only get better and enhance his already reputable status even further as the years go by.
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