Gerard Pique wants to retire at Barcelona

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Gerard Pique has revealed his intention to retire at Barcelona, seemingly putting an end to speculation about any potential future return to Manchester United.

Pique initially joined Manchester United from the Catalan giants back in 2004 but spent only four years in English football before returning to his former club and cementing his status as a key member of Barcelona's first-team squad.

Despite his obvious affection for Blaugrana, however, an uncertain and inconsistent start to the new campaign from Pique - who has only started three games in La Liga under new boss Luis Enrique - has led to speculation that Manchester United are prepared to make the necessary preparations in order to launch a move for the 27-year-old either in January or next summer.

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Pique happy at Barcelona

Despite his lack of starts under a manager who appears to prefer a partnership of Javier Mascherano and former Valencia defender Jeremy Mathieu, Pique evidently remains committed to Barcelona and is looking to follow in the footsteps of one of the club's most iconic centre-backs.

"I love this club for its history, its style of play and its connection to Catalunya," the Spanish international told FourFourTwo in an interview that was brought to our attention by the Daily Star.

"I love it here. I am at the best club in the world right now. I have no intention of leaving now or later. I've just signed a new contract and I want to retire a Blaugrana, just like [Carles] Puyol did."

Pique later admitted that he did not know quite what the future might hold for him, but also quickly re-iterated his belief that he could not see himself leaving the Camp Nou anytime soon.

Centre-back crisis

While a deal for Pique now seems incredibly unlikely, Manchester United will surely still seek to sign at least one new experienced centre-back when the transfer window opens once again in the new year.

Already short on quality options at the back following the summer departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, Louis van Gaal has recently been reduced to drafting in previously unheralded U21 players in order to cover the shortfall created by an unprecedented and devastating injury crisis.

Unbelievably, the youngster - Northern Irishman Paddy McNair - who was called upon to deputise for the likes of Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones for recent Premier League fixtures against both West Ham and Everton now faces three weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury sustained during Sunday's 2-1 win over the Toffees.

Mats Hummels is the other reputable defender who has been frequently linked with Manchester United since Van Gaal's arrival at Old Trafford, but the most recent quotes accredited to the German suggest that he is content to remain at Borussia Dortmund for the foreseeable future.

Manchester United
Gerard Pique
Premier League
La Liga

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