Joan Laporta reacts to Gerard Pique's retirement announcement
By Tom Gott
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has heaped praise on 'club icon' Gerard Pique as he prepares to play his final game for the Blaugrana.
Pique shocked the world on Thursday when he announced he will play his final game for Barcelona this weekend in Saturday's visit of Almeria ahead of walking away from professional football altogether.
With the announcement coming in the middle of the season, at a time in which Pique is the club's only fit senior centre-back, it caught many fans off-guard.
Laporta spoke to Barca TV about the shock decision, lauding the legendary centre-back for his glittering career, the last 14 years of which, and 25 in total, have been at Camp Nou.
“Pique is part of the Barça badge, he has achieved everything with the club," the president said.
“He will always be an icon for the Culers, he has more than demonstrated what he wants from Barça. 25 years he has been linked to the club. It has been an honour to have him as a Barça player.”
Laporta did stress, however, that an agreement of Pique's abrupt contract termination is yet to be finalised. The centre-back is the club's highest earner and is still under contract until 2024 so there are some significant issues to iron out.
“Pique understands our fair play situation, the wage bill requires an adjustment, he knows that and he is very willing to help the club," he continued.
“The exit agreement is being finalised, but there is a great attitude of the player to help.”
Finally, Laporta admitted Barcelona would like to pay tribute to Pique during Saturday's game but conceded that doing so in a competitive game may not be possible.
“We are in the middle of competition, but what we do will be what Gerard feels comfortable with.," he said. "He has pondered a decision that is always hard to make and we will be at his disposal to carry out the acts that correspond to the departure of such an important person for Barcelona.”