BARCELONA’S La Liga match with Almeria at the Nou Camp on Saturday will have an extra poignancy for Barca fans as long-serving defender Gerard Pique bows out after an illustrious career.

The 35-year-old defender shocked the football world on Thursday with the news that he’s decided to retire with almost immediate effect.

That’s despite having 18 months left on his lucrative contract, which will mean some useful bonus cash in the bank for the cash-strapped La Liga club.

Pique’s announcement followed hard on the heels of Barcelona’s failure this week to advance to the next stage of the Champions League.

His time at the Catalan club has seen eight La Liga titles and three Champions League trophy wins.

“I will become a regular fan,” Pique said on an emotional video address to fans.

“I will support the team. I will pass my love for Barca to my children, like my family did with me. And you know me, sooner or later, I will be back.”

That has been taken as a strong hint that Pique might fancy a future run at being elected as club president.

The current holder, Joan Laporta, said: “Pique is part of the Barca badge and he has achieved everything with the club.”

Off the field, Pique’s year has been far from smooth with spring’s much-publicised split from pop star Shakira, after she discovered he was seeing another woman.


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