Barcelona star Gerard Pique explains reasons behind leaving Manchester United

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique reflects on his departure from Manchester United in the summer of 2008.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has been reflecting on his time at Manchester United.

The Spain international was on the books of the Red Devils from 2004 until 2008, having moved to the Manchester outfit from Barca as a teenager.

During his time at Old Trafford, Pique won the Premier League, the FA Community Shield and the Champions League once each.

However, the 27-year-old could never establish himself as a first-choice centre-back at United under Sir Alex Ferguson and left for Barcelona in the summer of 2008.

It cost the Catalan giants a reported fee of £5 million, but under then Barca coach Pep Guardiola, Pique became one of the best and most complete centre-backs in the world.

Pique has since gone on to win La Liga four times, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League twice each with Barcelona, while also being an important part of the Spain team that clinched the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2012.

The defender has now suggested that he had to leave because of the imperious form of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, while insisting that he is ready to fight for his place in the Barcelona starting line-up.

‘It’s not a strange career, it’s a really good career, but now I have a big challenge’, he told The Guardian. ‘At Manchester United I had Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic ahead of me, players who were never injured, never red carded … f*****g hard [to dislodge].

‘But this is the first time at Barcelona I’m not playing as much as I want to. A lot of people say: ‘Pique is not fit or not playing well.’ But Pique is really playing well.

'After the World Cup I admitted I maybe hadn’t been at my level, but in pre-season I worked really hard and I’m really happy about my performances during the season’.

For years, Vidic and Ferdinand were two of the best central defenders in the world, and formed a truly formidable centre-back partnership.

Pique had to leave United to play regularly, and time has proved that it was the right decision.

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