Barcelona has developed a reputation for valuing and commemorating the careers of its veterans, particularly those who are considered legends. Gerard Pique has earned the right to wear this moniker. Pique's continual display of leadership during his career has led Barça fans to believe that he has the potential to become the club's president in the future.
Pique's wish to retire at the club once his deal ends in 2024 may come sooner than the Spaniard had intended, as the 34-year-playing old's career appears to be drawing to an end. Pique hasn't had a great season in 2020/21. Oscar Mingueza, Ronald Araujo, and even Clement Lenglet have all improved significantly during his absence in the second half of the season.
When the 34-year-old has been featured in the starting XI, his body has frequently failed him down, as was the case in the first leg of the Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain. As Kylian Mbappe sped by Pique, the 34-year-old snatched the Frenchman's jersey, sparking a meme. Pique’s experience is top-notch and he resembles a player of that sort, but his body seems to disobey its orders.
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Against Valencia, he repeatedly hurried out of place and was unable to recoup after making mistakes, leaving large gaps uncovered behind him. Even if the 34-year-posture old's is perfect, allowing an opponent to get a jump on him creates an opportunity, a flaw that Goncalo Guedes exposed.
Pique appears to underperform against fast-paced opponents, which Barcelona frequently encounters. In recent years, football has become much more physically demanding, but teams in La Liga still believe that seasoned ball-playing central defenders can keep up with tenacious fast forwards. The 3-5-2 system has also helped to expose Pique's physical shortcomings, as it is a sophisticated system in which everyone, notably the midfield, must do their duty. When the midfield press is broken, the defence becomes susceptible. Sergio Busquets lacks the speed to cover for Pique when rushing out to shut down a player, therefore when he makes mistakes, it has a greater effect on the result.
Pique is also facing a worrying knee issue. Pique suffered the first of two knee problems against Atletico Madrid in November. The Spaniard has had a decent record when it comes to avoiding injuries, but the knee problems have forced him to miss 29 games for the Catalan giant’s last season. Pique has shown indications of the degeneration this season, but the stop-start nature of his schedule hasn't helped. The decision to forego surgery appears to be rash, and only time will tell if it was the right one.
With all this in mind, it’s upon Pique, whether he wants to continue or move to a different role. With Mingueza and Araujo improving, the World cup winner might be kept so that experience can be utilized.
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