Gerard Pique has had a difficult start to the 2022/23 campaign at Barcelona as he finds himself occupying the bench than being on the pitch this season.
The 35-year-old had been a permanent fixture for the majority of the last term until injuries started to take a toll on him towards the end. And with Barcelona bringing in new defenders this summer in Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde, the veteran star has dropped down the pecking order.
Manager Xavi Hernandez had spoken to Pique about relying on him less and less this season and it has come to fruition as the ex-Spain international has featured in just two of the eight matches that Barça have played in all competitions, clocking up just 135 minutes.
There had been speculations earlier this month that the relationship between him and Xavi had become tense over the game-time situation. There were even claims that Barcelona hoped Pique would retire at the end of the season.
While the defender does not have plans to hang up his boots anytime soon, he may still end up not playing for the Blaugrana beyond the ongoing campaign.
Indeed, as per a report from Mundo Deportivo, even though Pique’s contract with Barcelona runs until the summer of 2024, it could expire next year itself if he does not feature in a fixed number of matches over the course of the ongoing campaign.
As per the report, the veteran defender must play in at least 35% of Barça’s games this season or else he could find himself without a contract. And early signs are that he might not end up reaching that target as he has hardly been used by the manager.
While it is plausible that the situation might change at some point in the future, especially with the rest of the centre-backs travelling to the World Cup, as things stand, Pique could be forced out of Camp Nou next year itself due to this special clause in his contract.
In fact, Barcelona are already lining up an experienced replacement for him in the form of Athletic Club’s Inigo Martinez.