Gerard Pique Profile
|Born||Feb 02, 1987|
One of the great defenders of the modern age, Gerard Pique has been at the top of soccer for his entire career.
Gerard Pique is a Spanish soccer player who plays as a centre-back for Barcelona and has also played for Manchester United and the Spain and Catalonia national teams, as well as Real Zaragoza.
Pique spent the majority of his youth career in Barcelona's academy but joined Manchester United before signing his first professional contract. He played for the Red Devils from 2004-2008, going on loan to Real Zaragoza in 2006/07.
Pique struggled to dislodge Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the Manchester United defence and went back to Barcelona ahead of the 2008/09 season.
The centre-back was an instant success upon his return to Barcelona, starring for the club under Pep Guardiola. He remains a mainstay.
Pique at Man United
Pique signed for Manchester United from Barcelona in 2004. The Red Devils did not pay a fee, as he was too young to have a professional contract. He made his debut in October 2004 as a substitute for John O'Shea in a 3-0 League Cup victory over Crewe Alexandra.
Pique starred for the reserve team at Manchester United, earning himself a new four-year contract, which he signed in February 2005. He continued to play a bit-part role for United's first team.
The 2006/07 season saw Manchester United win the Premier League, but Pique spent the campaign on loan at Real Zaragoza. There, he made 28 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals.
Pique was more involved in the Manchester United first team in 2007/08, making 13 appearances and scoring two goals in all competitions. Those came in the UEFA Champions League against Dynamo Kiev and AS Roma - his only goals for the club.
Manchester United won the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, but with Vidic and Ferdinand preferred in defence to Pique, he left for Barcelona after the 2007/08 season.
Upon his return to Catalunya, he said: "I am very happy to be back, I didn't think I would be here again but this is very good for me. Manchester United is a great club and I enjoyed winning things. To play with world-class players has helped me and now I want to continue this at Barca."
Domestic and European success at Barcelona
Pique was in Barcelona's youth system from 1997 to 2004, so he was able to slot in seamlessly upon his return to the club.
In 2008/09, Pique played 45 matches in all competitions, scoring three goals as Barcelona won the treble (La Liga, UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey) in Pep Guardiola's first season as manager. He played in the final of the Champions League, a 2-0 win over his former club Manchester United.
The 2009/10 season saw Barcelona retain their La Liga crown and win the FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup, but they lost their Champions League crown to Inter Milan, bowing out to Jose Mourinho's side in the semi-finals.
In 2010/11, Barcelona were triumphant again in La Liga and the Champions League, gaining revenge on Mourinho, who was now the manager of Real Madrid, by beating them in the semi-finals of the Champions League. They went on to defeat Manchester United 3-1 in the final at Wembley Stadium with Pique again featuring.
The 2011/12 season was Guardiola's last in charge of Barcelona and they finished second in La Liga, losing to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League. However, they managed to win the Super Cup and Club World Cup, as well as the Copa del Rey.
In 2012/13, Barcelona breezed to the La Liga title with 100 points under Tito Vilanova, but they were eliminated by Bayern Munich in the last four of the Champions League with Pique scoring an own goal.
The 2013/14 season was a difficult one as Barcelona lost the Copa del Rey final 2-1 to Real Madrid and watched Los Blancos win the Champions League and Atletico Madrid the La Liga title. Pique later revealed that in 2014, he had lost his passion for the game and felt ready to quit.
"I was close to quitting Spain, quitting Barca, and just walking away," he said. "You have enough money to live the rest of your life. After the 2014 World Cup, I didn't have any passion.
"Then they spoke about Luis Enrique coming, bringing in some fresh air, trying to get back as one of the best teams in the world."
A refreshed Pique saw Enrique replace Gerardo Martino as Barcelona manager and guide them to the treble again in 2014/15. Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in the final of the Champions League.
Pique and Barcelona won La Liga and the Copa del Rey in 2015/16 and defended their Copa del Rey title in 2016/17. At the end of that season, Neymar left for Paris Saint-Germain, which was one of the key elements in Barcelona's downfall as a club.
They managed to win La Liga under Ernesto Valverde in 2017/18 and 2018/19, but suffered heavy defeats in the Champions League against AS Roma and Liverpool, respectively, in each of those seasons. Barcelona also won the 2017/18 Copa del Rey title.
In 2019/20, the wheels well and truly came off. Valverde was sacked mid-season and replaced by Quique Setien, who oversaw a disastrous end to the campaign. Barcelona lost their La Liga title to Real Madrid and were humbled 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Pique offered to leave Barcelona in the wake of that humiliation, but the club opted to keep him on board for the 2020/21 season under Ronald Koeman.
Gerard Pique and Spain
Pique was part of the Spain team which went down in history as arguably the greatest of all time.
Prior to his senior success, Pique formed a part of the Spain U-19 team that won the U-19 European Championships in 2006, with Pique assisting the winner in a 2-1 victory over Scotland in the final.
After continuing to grow his reputation in Spain's youth sides, including 12 caps for the U-21s, Pique was awarded his senior international debut in 2009, shortly after Spain had won Euro 2008, he went on to star at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and at UEFA Euro 2012. He excelled at centre-back alongside Carles Puyol at the World Cup - with the Barca pair keeping an incredible five clean sheets out of their seven matches - and Sergio Ramos at the European Championships, where the Spain defence conceded just once in the entire tournament on their way to the trophy.
It was a time of unparalleled success for Spain, with a golden generation of players coming together to bring trophies back to the country - with the Barcelona defender playing a key part in those campaigns.
Pique was sent off in the 2013 Confederations Cup final, a 3-0 defeat to Brazil. Spain endured disappointing campaigns at the 2014 and 2018 World Cup tournaments and failed to retain their European crown in 2016.
Pique made his 100th appearance for the Spain national team in a 1-0 win over Iran at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He retired from international soccer on August 11, 2018 with 102 caps to his name, although he has continued playing for Catalonia.
Pique is in a long-term relationship with singer Shakira and the couple have two children. They met when he appeared in her music video for Waka Waka, the theme song of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Pique received a backlash from Spanish fans for his support of the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.
Reported net worth
In July 2019, Pique was ordered to pay â‚¬2.1million to the tax authorities after being convicted of image rights fraud.
In 2017, Pique was listed 19th by Forbes in their World's Highest-Paid Soccer Players rankings. They listed him as having earnings of $17.7million, with his salary and bonus making up $14.7million and his endorsements of $3million.