At first glance, claims that Gerard Pique could be available in January for a Man Utd transfer feels like a 2 + 2 process, with journalists eyeing the pieces of a possible story and assembling them together into an attention-grabbing conclusion.
The defender, who has been an ever present in the Barcelona side since 2008, has suddenly found himself ostracised this season. Factoring in rumours that Pique’s relationship with Luis Enrique has deteriorated, it’s a set of events that has caused the story to pick up pace and led to a barrage of rumours of whether he is staying. Manchester United, as always, have been linked, particularly as he is a former player.
The transfer gossip may be opportunistic but there could be some substance to it too. Pique has been at the club since he was a youngster and is a self-confessed fan, so his departure would be a difficult one but Cesc Fabregas, who has a similar love affair with the Catalan club, demonstrated last summer that most players just want to play football. Leaving a big club who a player has an affinity with is tough but not impossible. Danny Welbeck would no doubt second the sentiment.
Pique has left before of course and there is even a belief in some quarters that he will request a transfer if his situation does not improve in the coming weeks. His commitment to the club was brought into question recently, after he was caught looking at his mobile phone whilst on the bench – an act strictly forbidden at Barcelona – and overheard claiming he has enemies at the club.
If United could sign him, he would be an excellent addition. At 27, he is still young enough to improve rather than regress, yet he boasts a wealth of experience. He’s won everything domestically and his 57 caps for Spain include both a World Cup and a European Championships winning medal.
While his anticipation and reading of the game are his strongest attributes, he does not shirk from the physicality of a contest, something that is vital in the tumultuous nature of Premier League. He is also, as you would expect from a Catalan graduate, skilful and confident in possession. Occasional sloppiness in his tackling, a lack of pace, and a lingering nonchalance that can be exposed, are his weakest points.
What are the chances of signing him?
You’d still have to think fairly low – his reported unrest at Barcelona has been relatively brief and it’s likely he would choose to fight for his place at least until next summer, if not beyond.
That being said, if Enrique makes it clear that Pique does not figure in his plans, then he could be available. United would have competition but their previous ties with the defender, in addition to their burgeoning Spanish contingent, may give them the edge.