Gerard pique is aiming to win his fourth Champions League winners medal in Berlin tonight as Barcelona face up to Juventus, and Pique comes against two of his former team-mates at Old Trafford in the shape of Patrice Evra and Carlos Tevez. Since returning to Barcelona from Old Trafford at the start of the 2008/09 season for £5million, he has won the lot but he still looks back on his time at Old Trafford fondly and believes it was key in his development as a footballer and a human being.
Pique began his career in the Barcelona youth set-up, playing as a defensive midfielder, playing in the same youth team as Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi, he would often have to protect the little Argentinian in youth team games, as opponents tried to intimidate the little Argentinian. In 2004 he decided to leave Barcelona and sign for Manchester United on a free transfer as he too young to have a professional contract. He arrived at Manchester United as a 17 year old and recalls:
Nemanja Vidic was five years older than me and Rio Ferdinand nearly nine years, at the time they were the best central defenders in the world. They never had a bad game!
During in his time at Old Trafford Pique made 25 appearances for Manchester United, he would obliviously have liked to play more and if he had stayed at United a little longer may have forced Sir Alex Ferguson to make a decision regarding his central defensive partnership. Despite his limited game time at Old Trafford still feels he learnt a lot in his days in Manchester.
I learned so much in my time at United. Sharing a dressing room with Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Ryan Giggs at such a young age was an amazing experience. I didn’t play as much as I would have liked but it was a master’s degree in development as a player and a person.
When it came to his decision to move back to Barcelona, he had just helped United to win the Premier League and Champions League in the 2007/08 but he had only made 13 appearances in all competitions as he struggled to dislodge Vidic and Ferdinand at the centre of United’s defence. He sat down with Sir Alex Ferguson to discuss his future in light of the fact he knew Barcelona wanted him back. Sir Alex wanted him to stay in Manchester but understood his reasons for wanting to return to Barcelona.
I’ll always be grateful to Sir Alex, who was like a second father to me, for letting me move back to Barcelona. He wanted me to stay and fight for my place, but understood what Barcelona means to me
I think the Pique situation back then is a similar one to the David De Gea one we are seeing this summer. In that if it was anyone but Barcelona that had come in for him, he would have probably had stayed at United and you never know what might have happened. Pique was born in Barcelona and played in the Barcelona youth set-up so you can understand the lure of Barcelona for him especially when he wasn’t getting much game time at Old Trafford.
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