Barça boy Piqué completes dream move home
Posted by nickogs20 on May 28, 2008
As I’m sure anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past week is aware, United and Barcelona have agreed a fee for the transfer of Gerard Piqué back to the Catalan club from whom United signed him back in 2004. The fee is (as ever) undisclosed but thought to be in the region of £6m (or €7.5m), while the 21 year old centre-back has signed a four year contract with Barça and will officially join when the transfer window re-opens on July 1st after four years, twenty-three first team appearances and two goals at Old Trafford.
It’s a move that has disappointed several United fans, and in a way that’s understandable – it’s always nice to see kids graduate from the youth ranks through to the first-team, and over the last few years we’ve seen highly-touted prospects like David Jones, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Giuseppe Rossi and now Piqué sold without seemingly being given a fair crack of the whip. Unfortunately the nature of top-flight football these dictates that it’s so much harder for managers to give youngsters opportunities, and Piqué is an obvious example of this. In Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, United have the strongest central defensive partnership in the country, quite possibly in Europe. Central defence is never the easiest position to rotate in anyway, and breaking up that partnership just to give a youngster valuable minutes is simply not an option for Sir Alex in the vast majority of fixtures.
This essentially left Piqué with a decision to make – sit tight, make the most of the 10-15 appearances a season that may come his way and hope to be in the box-seat to become first choice should injury or a serious loss of form hit one of Rio or Vida; or seek to establish himself elsewhere and get his career truly up and running. When you consider that both Ferdinand and Vidic are on long-term contracts and could conceivably have the central defensive positions locked down for 4-5 years to come, and that the ‘elsewhere’ in this case is the club Piqué has supported his entire life (indeed, Gerard was enrolled as a Barça socio on the day he was born and his grandfather Amador Bernabeu was once a vice-president at the Camp Nou), it’s not hard to see why the Spaniard came to the decision he did.
In practical terms, Piqué’s departure leaves United short of back-up in central defence. The rumours linking Jonny Evans with a permanent move to Sunderland persist, but you’d expect the Ulsterman to return and essentially fill the role Piqué played in 07-08. On a more human level, Gerard was popular among his peers and widely acknowledged as one of the jokers in the dressing room so he’ll be missed. Judging by an open letter published on manutd.com after his move went through, the feeling would appear to be mutual:
“I didn’t want to say goodbye without thanking all the club personnel, including the football equipment manager, masseuses, secretaries, coaches, and especially my team mates, who have always treated me well and played a vital role in my development, both as a football player and more importantly, on a personal level.
Obviously I would have liked to play more this season, but I must say that despite some difficult decisions, the manager has always treated me in an exceptional manner, for which I am extremely grateful.
I am leaving with some very special memories: scoring a Champions League goal at Old Trafford, beating Arsenal in April on the way to winning the title and, most of all, the experience of being part of this fantastic group that won the Premier League and Champions League Double.
Finally, a special thanks to the fans for their warmth and support. I would like them to know that I will always carry United in my heart and I hope that they understand my decision to go back to my home club, FC Barcelona.
Thank you all and I hope to see you in the Champions League final next season.
As a fan I’ve always had a soft spot for him after a brief but amusing conversation at an abandoned reserve game with Wolves a few years back, and much like his friend Giuseppe Rossi, I fully expect Gerard to be a success in Spain. Best of luck to him (within reason of course, especially if that Champions League final encounter he talks about comes to fruition…).