Pique basking in Barca boost
Gerard Pique admits he is still coming to terms with his summer return to Spanish giants Barcelona.
By Lucas Brown
Last Updated: 10/11/08 12:06pm
Gerard Pique believes his return to Barcelona and regular appearances in the first team are all still sinking in after he made an unexpected return to Camp Nou over the summer.
The Catalan defender left his hometown club in 2004 to sign for Manchester United, but jumped at the chance to move back after four years in England.
After being restricted to a bit-part role at Old Trafford, Pique is delighted that Pep Guardiola has shown complete faith in him and handed him numerous opportunities to display his talent.
"I did not expect to play so much before the start of the season. Nor did I think I would return to Barca so quickly," he told Catalan television's Hat-Trick programme.
"When I decided to leave it was very hard, but it was my choice to go to Manchester United.
"But there was a risk that I would never be able to come back and that is why I am here now aiming to give everything to the team that I can.
"I have to thank Pep for the confidence that he has shown in me."
Pique recognises that he enjoyed a steep learning curve at Manchester United and accepts that he gained invaluable experience from working under Sir Alex Ferguson.
"I learned to be a full-time football player there and how to do everything," he continued.
"I also learned that in the dressing room the joking and laughter is great, but once you were on the pitch, things were serious and at a very high level.
"In Barcelona and Spanish football there are more things that can distract you, although that depends on every individual player, but I will learn to cope with that."
The debate regarding the contenders for the European Football of the Year award also showed that Pique has lost none of his admiration for his former team as he tipped Cristiano Ronaldo to take the title ahead of Lionel Messi.
"I sincerely believe that Cristiano will win it this year because he had a spectacular season last time out and not just with his goals.
"Leo Messi is still very young and I have not doubt that he will win it in later on."
Reigning champions Real Madrid may be just behind Barcelona in the Primera Liga, but the media have not been impressed with their performances and the criticism has surprised Pique.
"It is incredible because they always seem to be in crisis even though they are only two points below us," he added.
"I just hope that in games when we do not play in the way that we are now that we will still be able to pick up results in the same way that playing badly has not affected their position."