Ex-Manchester United starlet Gerard Pique believes the acquisition of former Leicester City defender Harry Maguire could be the catalyst for a “return to the top” of the Premier League.
Gerard Pique, who started his senior career with the Red Devils before returning to Barcelona as a proven central defender himself, has likened the signing of Maguire to when Sir Alex Ferguson snapped up Rio Ferdinand from Leeds United. The world-record £80 million deal has been compared with Ferdinand’s switch to Old Trafford, which added a touch of class to a United backline needing to evolve.
Maguire was named Man of the Match in his first game in a United shirt, helping his new employers to keep a clean sheet in a 4-0 hammering of Chelsea. However, it’s not been such plain sailing since, with a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace proving particularly frustrating.
Nevertheless, Pique believes Maguire’s presence can help usher in a new and successful era for United and boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Pique said that it “happened before with Van Dijk” as well as “ten years ago with Rio Ferdinand”.
Pique said that United “culturally” invest in “good defenders” and believes that Maguire is the latest addition that can help them “be at the top again”. Maguire had only made 76 Premier League appearances for Leicester City before United earmarked him as their long-awaited replacement for Ferdinand and Vidic.
Adept with the ball at his feet, as well as in the air, Maguire certainly has all the attributes and leadership qualities to give United’s backline newfound stability and confidence.
Looking back on his own time at Old Trafford, Pique said that he had a “great time” in Manchester. Pique insisted that although he didn’t feature as much as he wanted, it was a “very important step” in his professional career at such a young age.
Pique cited playing and training alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney as one of his most cherished moments as a United player. He believes the “experience of playing with those experienced players” set him up perfectly for the long and illustrious career he’s enjoyed at Barcelona.
While Gerard Pique remains something of a stalwart at Barcelona, he makes no secret of his second love outside of football. The 32-year-old is a regular on the European poker scene, often featuring at the EPT Barcelona event.
Pique even finished runner-up in last month’s EPT Barcelona tournament, bagging himself a cool €352,950 in prize money. Pique wasn’t the only Barcelona FC player to reach the final table of the 2019 EPT Barcelona event either. Midfielder Arturo Vidal eventually finished in a respectable fifth place, taking home €134,460. Pique’s win means he has now bagged well over $500,000 in live tournament cashes.
During his appearance at the EPT Barcelona event, Pique also revealed that he has been in touch with Neymar about a potential return to Nou Camp from PSG. Amazingly, both Pique and Vidal had taken part in Barcelona’s latest La Liga game a day before, helping Barca to a 5-2 home win over Real Betis. This game was Pique’s 500th appearance in a Barca shirt in all competitions.
Pique has been a key figure at the heart of the Barca backline since returning to the Nou Camp from Old Trafford in 2008. Since then, Pique has made 314 league appearances in a Barcelona shirt, scoring 27 times. His height and technical ability have enabled him to dominate on the floor and in the air for many years.
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Pique appears to be keen to prolong his stay at Nou Camp for as long as he can after retiring from international football last summer. Last January, Pique agreed a new contract that would keep him at the club until 2022 at the earliest.
It’s unsurprising that some people have drawn comparisons between Maguire and Pique, given the former’s similar stature and ball-playing abilities. Maguire will be looking to enjoy a similarly lengthy stint at Old Trafford as Pique has at Barcelona. The former Leicester defender agreed a six-year contract with the option for an additional year, ensuring Maguire’s best years are sure to play out in the North West.