Tag: Spain

Gerard Pique signs Barca contract extension with €500m buyout clause

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has agreed to a contract extension with the Catalan club that runs through to 2022.

Barca has also armed the new contract to include a 500m euro (£440m) buyout clause after losing Brazilian superstar Neymar in an aggressive contract buyout by Paris Saint-Germain last summer.

“The club and the player have agreed terms on a new deal through to June 30, 2022. We will announce when the official signing will take place in a couple of days,” FC Barcelona announced in a statement on their website.

Barcelona-born Pique was part of the club’s youth system between 1997 and 2004 before four seasons at Old Trafford brought just 23 appearances in all competitions.

However, Pique, 30, has since played 422 games for the Catalan club after rejoining from Manchester United in 2008, increasingly steady presence as centre-back with the Catalans winning three Champions Leagues and six Spanish Liga titles during his tenure.

The club, who secured the Copa del Rey trophy last season but missed out on the La Liga trophy, is also currently top the Spanish top-flight with a nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

The well-spoken Spanish International has also gathered more than 20 honours with the club, including six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues, and was also part of the Spain side that won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

Gerard Pique right to voice out — Filipe Luis

Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis believes that Gerard Pique, his counterpart at FC Barcelona is right to speak his mind publicly, especially in regards to the recent Catalan independence referendum.

Luis, 32, added that more footballers should aspire to be like the controversial Spanish International, who had often made headlines in recent weeks in respect to his support for the disputed independence vote.

Spanish football fans had went so far as to jeer Pique during an open training session while away on international duty, with sections of their support questioning his commitment to Spain. However, Luis, who will face Pique when Barca visits Atletico in La Liga on Saturday, has come out in support of the former Manchester United youngster’s attitude.

“I am a fan of Pique, although I often disagree with what he says,” he said. “But he dares, like [Alvaro] Arbeloa. They are people who are not afraid to say what they think, who do not hide behind their fame.”

“They are admirable and hopefully more footballers will be like them.”

Nonetheless, Brazilian international Luis — who had spent most of his footballing career in Spain — cannot fathom the Catalonian desire to split from the country.

“It [the referendum] is a subject that I follow daily and I cannot understand,” he added. “I respect it, but in a world that tends to unite and open frontiers, it doesn’t sound right to me that a community wants to close itself.”

“I guess it’s because I have the vision of a Brazilian and in Brazil, with all its flaws, if the national anthem sounds, people are proud. Left, right, it does not matter. People are proud of being Brazilian and something I cannot understand is why that doesn’t happen here [in Spain].”

“Why do you want to separate? What do you think will be better?”

Andres Iniesta calls for ‘open dialogue’ over Catalonia crisis

FC Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta has called for dialogue between the Spanish government and leaders in Catalonia to resolve the crisis between the central government and its richest region following the disputed independence referendum on Sunday.

“I have never publicly weighed in on situations that are as complex and that arouse such diverse sentiments as this and I never will but the current situation we find ourselves in is exceptional,” Iniesta wrote on Facebook. “I am clear about one thing, and before we do ourselves more damage, we need those in charge to open dialogue with each other. Do it for all of us, as we deserve to live in peace.”

Iniesta, 33, who scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final against Holland, is one of few Barcelona players universally liked in Spain and often receives standing ovations when playing at visiting grounds, has even been cheered even at Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid home turf, Santiago Bernabeu.

He played 121 times for Spain and also won the 2008 and 2012 European championships alongside La Roja, although he is injured at present and unable to join the squad for their final World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel.

Meanwhile, Gerard Pique — a teammate of Iniesta’s both at Barca and at Spain, said he considered leaving the Spain team after he was whistled and verbally abused by supporters at the Spanish training session on Monday but insisted he would not give those fans satisfaction by walking away.

Pique echoed Iniesta in an appeal for respect and dialogue in the wake of Sunday’s Catalan referendum as the political situation grows increasingly tense, but also refused to reveal whether he had voted yes, describing that as the “$1m question”, while dismissing the popular assumption that he is in favour of independence.

The defender, who had pledged to retire from the Spanish international team should his views for a Catalan independence referendum be deemed a “problem”, said: “My commitment to the national team is maximum. I feel very proud to be here. I have thought about [leaving] and I think the best thing is to stay.”

“Going would mean that those people have won, those who think the best solution is to whistle and insult. I’m not going to give them that satisfaction. There are lots of people who want me to stay. If you talk, you can reach an understanding. I am sure that if I sat down with them all, it would be different. There are people in Spain whose positions are very diverse and if you talk, you can find a solution. I’d like people to listen and think: ‘What he says is reasonable.’”