Gerard Piqué announced his plan for retirement from FC Barcelona after the club’s fixture on Saturday against Almería. The 35-year-old spent the majority of his youth and senior career with the Catalan club. Arriving in 2008 from Manchester United, Piqué has 396 appearances in the Blaugrana kit.

Piqué’s announcement is a surprising one, and one that comes at a bizarre time. In terms of personal milestones, Piqué is just four appearances away from 400 with Barcelona in LaLiga. He would be just the fifth player in history to achieve that milestone. In total, he surpassed 600 appearances in all competitions with Barcelona.

Also, it is rare for players to retire in the middle of the season like this. Traditionally, players mark their final season. Or, they simply make that announcement in the offseason.

Still, the centerback released a video on his Twitter account. The caption translates in Catalan to “Culers, I have to tell you something.”

This season, Piqué made seven competitive appearances, including three in the UEFA Champions League.

Gerard Piqué announces retirement from playing career

Piqué’s performances this season are far from the days of his past. The Spanish international took a back seat to players like Andreas Christensen, Ronald Araújo and Jules Koundé. In fact, Barcelona fans put the blame on Piqué for one of the goals the club conceded against Inter Milan in a 3-3 draw in the Champions League.

Gerard Piqué is vice-captain to Sergio Busquets. Now, that position is vacated for some other player to fill in.

Unfortunately, Piqué’s time as a player ended unceremoniously. Frequent discussion over his personal life and his relationship with Shakira did no favors for the player. Plus, his dip in form had him fall out of favor with the Culers.

On the other hand, Piqué shows more passion than perhaps any other Barcelona player over recent years. In fact, his goal against Sevilla in the 2020 Copa del Rey semifinal to tie the game in extra time brought joy to Barcelona fans in a time they desperately needed it. He also played a key role with the Spanish national team. He helped the side win back-to-back European Championships, with a World Cup in between in 2010.

Moreover, fans hope the defensive standout can return to Barcelona in some other way. For example, Piqué’s video stated his intentions.

“Sooner or later, I’ll be back.”

Piqué’s final game before retirement against Almería is on Saturday, Nov. 5, with coverage on ESPN+.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Pressinphoto