Gerard Pique has hinted he will run for Barcelona presidency in the future but will "focus on other things" immediately after his retirement.

The Spain international brought a close to his illustrious career this week, hanging up his boots with eight LaLiga titles and three Champions League victories, as well as international glory at the European Championships and World Cup.

Having been developed at Barcelona, Pique starred in the first team after a four-year stint at Manchester United to become a mainstay in a 14-year spell.

Unlike former team-mates Xavi and Andres Iniesta, Pique is unlikely to go into management but revealed club presidency is something to consider in the future.

"I'm sure it will appeal to me at one point, but not right now," Pique told Ibai Llanos on Twitch.

"Not training every day will give me the opportunity to focus on other things. In the future, we will see, but I would like to help the club of my life maximise the potential it has."

Pique was unable to feature in the midweek victory against Osasuna, having been shown a red card as a substitute at half-time, but did bid farewell to Camp Nou in the 2-0 victory against Almeria previously.

That send-off meant a lot to the defender, who explained he had been considering retirement throughout the first few months of the season.

"Saturday was spectacular for me. I was not giving too much importance to it, but I am so grateful to get a send-off like that and to realise the appreciation the fans have," he added.

"There were a lot of reasons [for retiring] which I had been thinking about throughout the season. I spoke with Xavi at the start of the campaign and he told me it would be difficult for me this year, but I wanted to give it a go. Last year had been good for me personally.

"But the sensations were not good in general. There were moments I thought about retiring earlier when I was not playing. After one game, I was doing the post-game session at Camp Nou for players that had not played and I thought about going into the dressing room and calling it a day.

"In the end, with the injuries we had in defence, I delayed the decision but now, with the World Cup break, felt like a good moment."

Xavi has revealed he was planning to call on Gerard Pique from the bench, had the retiring defender not seen red at half-time in Barcelona's clash with Osasuna.

Pique's glittering career ended on a low note on Tuesday, with the 35-year-old receiving his marching orders from referee Jesus Gil Manzano without even leaving the bench.

With Barca 1-0 down and a man down at half-time, having seen star striker Robert Lewandowski sent off, substitute Pique was shown a red card for dissent during the interval.

After an emotional send-off at Camp Nou at the weekend, an eighth LaLiga dismissal brought an end to his career.

Xavi was hoping to rely on his former team-mate, but instead had to struggle through with a makeshift backline after Andreas Christensen went off midway through the second half, with youngster Chadi Riad coming on as a late substitute.

"I was going to use Gerard," Xavi said at his post-match press conference. 

"We knew that Chad was going to come in, Andreas was struggling with an injury. Eric [García] had some discomfort in the warm-up, and we were forced to not have him start. 

"We did think about bringing in Gerard, but he was sent off at half-time when things got tense."

Even with their defensive issues and numerical disadvantage, Barca came away with a 2-1 win that saw them move five points clear of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, with Raphinha netting a late winner.

"We felt that wasn’t just, we felt they were against us and that’s why we reacted so strongly," Xavi said. 

"We celebrated this win as if everything was against us. The goal we conceded was a foul, then Lewandowski was sent off.

"All the decisions by the referee went against us and we thought we grabbed a win in a game we might tie."

Raphinha fired 10-man Barcelona to a dramatic 2-1 win at Osasuna in LaLiga, as the Blaugrana recovered from Robert Lewandowski's first-half dismissal to go five points clear at the summit.

Barca fell behind to David Garcia's early header on Tuesday and were a man down when Lewandowski picked up a second booking for a reckless foul on the goalscorer.  

Unused substitute Gerard Pique ended his Blaugrana career with a whimper when he also saw red for berating the officials at the break, but Xavi's men hit back in the second half, first through Pedri.

Despite Osasuna looking the more likely victors late on, Raphinha came off the bench to nod in five minutes from time, snatching a crucial victory in Barca's final game before the World Cup.

Gerard Pique was sent off in his final match before retirement without getting as far as the pitch as Barcelona played at Osasuna on Tuesday.

With Barca 1-0 down away from home at half-time, Pique, who was named on the bench, was shown a red card for dissent at half-time by referee Jesus Gil Manzano.

Pique had been seen in animated discussion with the official after Robert Lewandowski was earlier given his marching orders.

After an emotional send-off at Camp Nou at the weekend, an eighth LaLiga dismissal brought a premature end to his career.

Barcelona boss Xavi says "not much is going to change" following Gerard Pique's retirement, with the Blaugrana squad prepared to play their part in filling the void left behind by the defender.

The veteran centre-back abruptly announced his retirement from the professional game last week, before bowing out on a winning note with a 2-0 victory in LaLiga over Almeria.

Pique departed in the 84th minute to a standing ovation, bringing the curtain down on a near-decade-and-a-half stay with the club, where he originally began as a junior before moving to Manchester United.

Asked how Barca intended to alter their side following his exit, Xavi was adamant there would be little difference within the team, noting they will pull together to counter his absence.

"Not much is going to change," he stated. "Everyone has their leading role in the team.

"We're going to miss Gerard but [the departure of long-term players] has always happened. When somebody has left, the rest have been relocated."

Elsewhere, Xavi further touched on the form of Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele, two wingers with contrasting fortunes this term at Camp Nou.

The Brazilian, signed from Leeds United ahead of the campaign, has yielded only one goal in a dozen LaLiga appearances, while the Frenchman looks to have rediscovered his form with four in 13 top-flight games, along with five assists.

On Raphinha, Xavi added: "He has total confidence on our part. Sometimes things don't turn out the way you want, but you have to keep working. We believe in him a lot, and I'm sure the goals will come.

"As for Dembele, he's making a difference. His numbers have changed. He is being important, and he is feeling that way too.

"He is happy, and he has grown a lot. He lacks consistency, but because of his talent and skill, he has everything to be the best in the world."

Xavi labelled Gerard Pique a "Barca legend" after the defender played his final game at Camp Nou before retirement.

Barcelona's 2-0 home win against Almeria on Saturday was Pique's last outing at the famous stadium prior to hanging up his boots, with second-half goals from Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong sealing the victory, making up for Robert Lewandowski missing an early penalty.

An emotional Pique was substituted in the 84th minute, receiving a standing ovation from the 92,605 fans in attendance and hugging each of his team-mates as he went off for the final time.

Speaking after the game, Xavi praised his former team-mate, with the Barca head coach saying: "He had a great game, we wanted to send him off in the best possible way.

"The bigger the game for him, the better he performed. I have already told him that he is a Barca legend and we are very thankful."

Xavi also mentioned the "beautiful" reception Pique received, though pointed out that some fans had recently not been as kind to the player, whistling in displeasure at him during the 3-0 win against Villarreal last month.

"Everything is beautiful today," he added. "The game, the performance, which was phenomenal. The tribute to Pique... We have to reconsider many times when we whistle at footballers. That doesn't add up.

"What adds up is this, 15 days ago there was whistling [at Pique]. He deserves this farewell. We have to realise that whistling doesn't help."

Appropriately for Pique, it was another clean sheet, meaning Barca have only conceded in one of their last 12 league games, which was the 3-1 defeat in El Clasico at Real Madrid, the only LaLiga game they have not won in that period.

Barca have conceded just four goals after 13 league games, equalling the lowest tally conceded at this stage of the competition in the top-flight (also four by Atletico Madrid in 1995-96).

Xavi was satisfied with the points that send Barca back to the top of LaLiga ahead of Madrid's trip to Rayo Vallecano on Monday, but felt they could have scored more after having 27 shots, the most they have managed in a league game this season.

"It was a complete match," he said. "I think the result could have been greater, it did not reflect the superiority of the team, but it gives us three points to continue in the fight."

Gerard Pique insisted it is "not farewell" after playing his final game for Barcelona at Camp Nou before retirement.

Pique was substituted to a standing ovation in the 84th minute of Barca's 2-0 win against Almeria on Saturday after second-half goals from Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong had set the Blaugrana on their way to an 11th win in their last 12 LaLiga games.

The 35-year-old announced the imminent end to his playing career earlier in the week, with the club agreeing to mutually terminate his contract prior to the start of the World Cup in Qatar later this month.

It is not yet clear whether Pique will play any part in Barca's final game before then, away to Osasuna on Tuesday, but it seems unlikely given his emotional departure against Almeria in which he hugged each of his team-mates.

Addressing the fans after the game with a microphone in hand, a tearful Pique said: "To want is to let go. There is so much love and passion between Barca and me.

"It was time to leave... [but] I am convinced that in the future I'll be here again. I already left and came back.

"This is not a farewell. I have been a member since I was born here, and I will die here."

The Barca players adorned special shirts before the game with "Sempr3" emblazoned on the front and Pique's name and number on the back, with the word 'sempre' meaning 'always' in Spanish, and Pique's number three replacing the 'e'.

Sergio Busquets also paid tribute to his team-mate with whom he has played at Barca since 2008 after the game, saying: "He leaves and incredible legacy. Playing for Barcelona means more to him than it does to anyone and we are going to miss him."

Barcelona eased to a 2-0 win against Almeria in Gerard Pique's final game at Camp Nou before retirement.

Goals from Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong made up for an early missed penalty from Robert Lewandowski, but it was always going to be Pique's occasion.

The 35-year-old centre-back played 82 minutes before being substituted, leaving the field to a standing ovation from every one of the 92,605 in attendance on Saturday as he tearfully hugged each of his team-mates.

Barca's win was their 11th in their last 12 league games and sent them back to the top of LaLiga before Real Madrid's trip to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

A VAR check saw Barca rewarded a sixth-minute penalty when Ferran Torres' header hit Kaiky Fernandes' arm but Lewandowski saw his spot-kick clip the outside of the left post after a stuttered run-up.

Despite Barca's dominance, a sloppy pass from De Jong was pounced on by Largie Ramazani and Marc-Andre ter Stegen reacted quickly to close down his shot.

It took less than three minutes of the second half for the hosts to find the opener as a long ball out to the right from Sergio Busquets found Dembele, who cut inside onto his left foot and beat two defenders before calmly rolling his shot into the far corner of the net.

Their lead was doubled just after the hour as a cross from the left by Jordi Alba found Ansu Fati, whose shot was saved well by Fernando Martinez before De Jong lashed home the rebound to seal the win as the Camp Nou bid farewell to Pique with a victory.

Barcelona have reportedly reignited their chase of Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva, and are said to be confident in their ability to get the deal done in January.

Silva, 28, has won four league titles with City since arriving at the club in 2017, and is enjoying another strong season after setting a new career-high with eight Premier League goals in the 2021-22 campaign.

The Portuguese international with 72 senior caps has two goals and five assists in his 12 league appearances this season, and has appeared in all six of City's Champions League group stage fixtures.

Barcelona have been linked with Silva for months, but after recent reports claimed they had moved on, a recent development has positively impacted the Spanish giants' financial situation and put the City star back on their radar.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA REVISIT CITY'S SILVA AFTER PIQUE RETIREMENT

According to Sport, the retirement of Gerard Pique has resulted in significantly improved financial flexibility for Barcelona, allowing them to revisit their long-standing interest in Silva.

The report claims City may be hesitant to part ways with a key contributor in the midst of a title chase, but that Silva had previously asked to leave the club before the failed sale of Frenkie de Jong muddied the waters.

Meanwhile, Mundo Deportivo adds Barcelona will look at 31-year-old Athletic Bilbao centre-back Inigo Martinez as their top choice to fill the defensive void left by Pique's departure.

 

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato is reporting Chelsea are preparing to terminate the loan of Denis Zakaria, claiming they can not offer him regular starts and have no interest in activating the €28million buy clause in the deal.

– According to ESPN, Liverpool are the favourites ahead of Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United and City to land Borussia Dortmund phenom Jude Bellingham.

– The Leicester Mercury is reporting Leicester City will not allow Youri Tielemans to leave during the January transfer window, despite his contract expiring at the end of the season.

Milan are keeping a close eye on 22-year-old Spezia centre-back Jakub Kiwior, with Gazzetta dello Sport reporting they could make a move in January.

– According to La Razon, Aston Villa manager Unai Emery is interested in 25-year-old centre-back Pau Torres, who he coached at Villarreal.

Xavi described Gerard Pique's retirement as "the law of life" and confirmed it could prompt Barcelona to dive back into the transfer market in January.

At the age of 35, and with a reduced role this season, Pique has taken it upon himself to call time on his career, rather than see out a contract that was due to run through to 2024.

Head coach Xavi has accepted his decisions have led to this point, having made it clear to Pique in pre-season he would not be a regular starter.

Pique will play his final Camp Nou game on Saturday, providing he is involved against Almeria, and has told Xavi he will also be available to face Osasuna in an away game on Tuesday.

The season then goes on hold as the World Cup takes over, and Pique will say his farewells to his boyhood club, for whom he has played over 600 games.

Barcelona will move on without him, and Xavi said: "Now we need to build a new generation. A lot of young players are gaining importance. It's a new era.

"We hope this is a new generation that gives a lot to the club. It's a shame when you see great team-mates and friends who are saying goodbye to football. 

"It's a sad thing to see, it makes you nostalgic, but it's the law of life, and it will happen to everyone."

Xavi believes Pique, who already has substantial business interests, could be a future Barcelona president.

"Gerard can be whatever he wants," said Xavi, when that notion was put to him. "For the ability he's got, the leadership, the personality he transmits, he can be whatever he wants. He's got abilities without doubt.

"He's super competitive, intelligent, he's got an amazing intellectual capacity, much more than normal."

With Pique on his way out, Barcelona will be one defender short of where Xavi would like them. He had hoped Pique would stay on, but instead he confirmed talks will take place about the possibility of making a new signing.

"We'll see. Now Gerard's leaving, yes maybe," Xavi said in his press conference on Friday. 

"We’ll have a meeting after the match against Osasuna to plan a little bit. We'll have time to plan with Mateu [Alemany, sporting director] and the president [Joan Laporta]."

Xavi played in the same team as Pique for seven years from 2008 to 2015, winning three Champions Leagues together and abundant domestic honours. They were also Spain team-mates for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 triumphs.

The coach has little doubt Pique will make a success of whatever he turns his hand to.

"A lot of times we don't choose the end," said Xavi. "It's worked out this way for better or worse and I wish him all the best.

"He's always given his all. He's a winner, he's always been a winner, and he'll continue to be that wherever he goes."

Pique will hope his final game at Barcelona's home is a winning farewell, and the signs are good.

Among current LaLiga teams, Barcelona have played more games against Almeria without defeat (P12 W10 D2) than against any other opponent. At home, Barcelona have won their six games against Almeria in LaLiga, scoring three or more goals in each of the last three.

Almeria's Rubi has lost all six of his games as a head coach in LaLiga against Barcelona, and the club have not had an away win against any opponent in LaLiga since February 2015, during a relegation season. They have drawn one and lost 12 on the road in LaLiga since that last win, with this their first season back in the top flight.

Pep Guardiola has described coaching Gerard Pique as "an honour" after the Spain international announced his decision to retire from football.

Pique revealed in a video on social media on Thursday that he will make his final appearance for Barcelona against Almeria at Camp Nou on Saturday before hanging up his boots.

The 35-year-old played under Guardiola for four seasons at Barca between 2008 and 2012.

"It was surprising news," Guardiola admitted at a press conference ahead of Manchester City's Premier League clash with Fulham.

"After making an incredible career in Barcelona, I wish him personally all the best for him and his family.

"He was a player for the big games, never once missing or behave [badly] or have a performance not in the highest level. That is what all the big clubs need, these kind of players.

"He won everything for Barcelona and Spain. The time arrives, the future will be bright, he's a smart guy.

"It was an honour for me personally to be his manager, and we spent an incredible four years together."

Pique will retire as a Barca legend, with only four players making more appearances for the club than his 614.

Those are Lionel Messi (778), Xavi (767), Sergio Busquets (694) and Andres Iniesta (674) - all of whom helped form part of the dominant Barca team in the 2010s alongside Pique.

He lifted 30 titles with the club in what was the most successful period in Barca's history, and Guardiola refused to be drawn on possible comparisons with any of his players at Man City.

"[It is] not about comparing, when you compare these things, someone is damaged," he said. "If you ask me my best full-back as manager, it would be unfair because everyone is everyone.

"All I will say is Gerard is a happy man in his life, he said in the video perfectly 'I don't want to be a football player, I want to be a Barcelona player'. It was his dream and his dream came true.

"Being there In the tough moments, the big important games, final of the Champions League or World Cup finals, derbies against [Real] Madrid, Atletico, Sevilla, Espanyol, always [he] was there.

"Of course his career had ups and downs, every player is like that. We knew in the locker room how his personality was important and in the big games always was the best."

Xavi accepts he "played an important part" in Gerard Pique deciding to retire after downscaling the defender's first-team role at Barcelona this season.

The head coach revealed he went through "some of the most difficult moments" of his career when he made the decisions during the off-season that have spurred his former team-mate to quit.

Pique, a Barcelona great who won eight LaLiga titles and the Champions League three times with the club, is set to play his last Camp Nou match on Saturday when Almeria are the visitors.

The 35-year-old will then be available for the match at Osasuna on Tuesday, according to Xavi, but will put a full stop to his playing career after that.

Xavi said coaching friends can make his role "unpleasant" when big decisions have to be made, and he called on Barcelona supporters to give Pique a rousing send-off.

It should not be taken as a given that Pique would start the Almeria game, Xavi said, but he seems certain to appear at some stage.

"He deserves all the love of the Barca fans," Xavi told a press conference on Friday. "I've known him as a team-mate and as a coach, and what he's decided, to put a full stop to his career, I understand completely due to the circumstances.

"He feels less responsible, less useful. I was in that position, too, and the normal thing is you take a step aside.

"He's got a contract and could easily continue with the club, but he's shown great professionalism by stepping aside, and I wish him all the best. The Barca fans should value him as he is, as a legend of the club.

"We had a conversation ahead of the season. I communicated my intentions. It was a private conversation. It was some of the most difficult moments of my career, speaking with Gerard this summer.

"As a friend of him, I love him a lot and hold him in high esteem, but it's something that happens to all of us. You arrive at a moment where you're not so important or useful for the team.

"You feel badly. I had to go through the circumstances, and it's difficult to manage this.

"I played an important part. I decided the best for the team, the institution. I have to make these decisions. It's a very difficult role where you don't receive a lot of gratitude, but I have to do the best for the team and for the club.

"I was honest with him in every moment over the summer, and the circumstances have helped him decide he'll put an end to his career."

Xavi hinted that Pique was far from happy about being pushed to the fringes of the first team.

"I tried to be honest. The player always feels when you're not wanted very much and don't play very much, the one to blame is the coach," Xavi said.

"You have to live with that, that's my work. It's an unpleasant job sometimes, having to take decisions like this with former team-mates like Pique and Dani Alves, and these are situations that aren't easy to manage."

Only four players have featured in more games for Barca than Pique, who has 614 appearances. Those ahead of him are Lionel Messi (778), Xavi (767), Sergio Busquets (694) and Andres Iniesta (674) – all of whom formed part of a great Barcelona team in the late 2000s and into the 2010s.

"He's won everything here," Xavi said. "He's been one of the best centre-backs in history, and whatever decision he makes is to be respected 100 per cent. He's got every right to choose how and when."

Atletico Madrid were eliminated from Europe in midweek after a 2-1 loss at Porto and are looking to bolster their squad.

One player who could be sold is Joao Felix, who Atleti signed for €126million from Benfica on a seven-year deal in 2019.

The Portuguese forward has underwhelmed this season, with only two goals, and has been unsettled at times.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETICO WILLING TO LISTEN TO JOAO FELIX OFFERS

Cadena SER claims Atletico Madrid have put Joao Felix on the market and are open to offers for him.

Bayern Munich were rumoured to have made a €100m off-season move for Felix, while Manchester United reportedly had a €130m bid turned down in August.

Fichajes reported last month that the 22-year-old had handed in a transfer request, while Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have been linked with him recently.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are getting proactive in the pursuit of Palmeiras' 16-year-old talent Endrick, sending officials to Brazil to commence talks over a deal, claims Marca. Endrick cannot officially join Madrid until he is 18-years-old but Los Blancos are eager to get an agreement in place.

West Ham, Leicester City, Southampton and Brentford are all monitoring Lyon's Brazilian winger Tete, according to The Sun.

– Diario Sport reports Barcelona want to sign Athletic Bilbao centre-back Inigo Martinez as a replacement for the retiring Gerard Pique.

Leicester are weighing up their options for a Youri Tielemans replacement, keeping tabs on Lorient midfielder Enzo Le Fee, reports 90min.

– La Gazzetta dello Sport reports veteran French forward Olivier Giroud will be rewarded with a new Milan contract after the World Cup. The new deal will run until 2024.

Gerard Pique's retirement brings one of the most distinguished careers in Barcelona and Spain footballing history to a conclusion.

Pique won eight LaLiga titles and the Champions League three times with Barca, while helping his national team lift their first World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship two years later.

The Los Cules great has decided to call it quits at the age of 35 after Barca's next match, against Almeria on Saturday, having turned out for his hometown club over 600 times.

A number of high-profile names have hailed Pique since the announcement, including the likes of Patrick Kluivert and Fabio Cannavaro, while former centre-back partner Carles Puyol called it a "privilege" to play alongside him.

A Barca legend

Pique will retire as a Camp Nou legend, with only four players featuring more times for Barca than his (614), those being Lionel Messi (778), Xavi (767), Sergio Busquets (694) and Andres Iniesta (674) - all of whom helped form part of the dominant Barca team in the 2010s alongside Pique.

Pique started in Barca's youth ranks but left for Manchester United in 2004, where he won the Premier League and Champions League in the 2007-08 season.

However, Pique returned to Barca in 2008 and has won 422 of his 614 games in all competitions since.

He lifted 30 titles with the club in what was the most successful period in Barca's history.

A rock for his national team

Pique also made his mark at international level, earning 102 caps for Spain between 2009 and 2018 and becoming one of just 13 players to feature 100 or more times for La Roja.

Pique played every minute of the final as they overcame the Netherlands 1-0 after extra time to lift their first World Cup in 2010, before Spain went on to win the 2012 Euros by routing Italy 4-0 in the final.

He scored five goals for Spain, all against different opponents, including three in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

European great

Only Sergio Ramos (135) made more Champions League appearances as a defender than Pique (128), while he scored the joint-most goals for a defender in the competition with Roberto Carlos (16).

Perhaps his best Champions League season was the 2008-09 campaign when he finished with the most ball recoveries (90), while only Xavi (967) completed more passes than him (695).

There are just four players with more Champions League titles, Karim Benzema, Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo, all of whom are on five.

Carles Puyol paid tribute to former Barcelona and Spain team-mate Gerard Pique, stating "few have defended the Barca shirt like you" after the centre-back announced he is to retire.

Pique will call time on his glittering playing career after Saturday's LaLiga clash with Almeria at Camp Nou, with his envious list of honours including eight domestic titles and three Champions Leagues crowns.

He endured a somewhat sour ending to his lengthy association with the Blaugrana, though, after falling down the pecking order under Xavi, while he was booed by home fans during the recent win over Villarreal.

Puyol partnered Pique in the heart of defence during one of the most successful periods in the club's history, including the treble-winning season of 2008-09, as well as Spain's World Cup glory in 2010.

The former Barca captain wrote on Twitter: "Thank you for everything, Geri. I am in shock. Many have been unfair to you, few have defended the Barca shirt like you.

"I can always say that I played alongside you, it was a privilege. I love you friend."

Pique has racked up a whopping 615 appearances for Barcelona across all competitions, with his tally only bettered by Lionel Messi (778), Xavi (767), Sergio Busquets (694) and Andres Iniesta (674).

The World Cup and European Championship winner also earned 102 international caps, making him one of just 13 players to reach triple figures for Spain.

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