Old Trafford boss keen on Nou Camp stalwart.
Gerard Pique linked with Manchester United return amid Chelsea ‘interest’
Manchester United and Chelsea could be set to fight it out for the signature of Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique.
The Spanish international and World Cup winner has been a mainstay of a Barca team that won last season’s Champions League and La Liga titles.
But he has suffered an alarming drop in form in recent weeks and was axed by manager Pep Guardiola for the midweek win against Bayer Leverkusen.
El Economista has suggested United are one of the teams to have been put on red alert by Pique’s removal from the Spanish champions’ team and are interested in bringing him back to Old Trafford, where he played between 2004 and 2008.
United have suffered from injuries to defenders Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones this season, while Chelsea are looking to supplement the signing of Gary Cahill.
Guardiola may not be averse to letting some of his Nou Camp stars leave the Catalan club in the summer, as they have fallen ten points behind fierce rivals Real Madrid in the La Liga table.
Sir Alex Ferguson is of course well aware of what Gerard Pique has to offer and may well see the Spanish international as a great addition to his back-line but how likely is it that the Barcelona man would be looking for a Nou Camp exit? This source talks of an ‘alarming drop’ in form but that may be over egging the pudding some what given that Barcelona have in fact only lost twice in 22 La Liga matches, hardly form to be overly concerned by and indeed the form of the centre back himself can only really be questioned in relation to the recent defeat away at Osasuna.
Pique spent four years at Old Trafford honing his trade, notching up two dozen appearances before being sold back to Barcelona in 2008. Since his return to the Catalan club the local born talent has been a virtual ever present but has suffered with injury concerns during some stages of his time at the club.
The strong defender has amassed over 170 appearances for Barcelona over the past four years, helping his side to three La Liga triumphs and a pair of Champions League successes so talk of a possible departure may well be premature.
Ferguson may well feel he could do with another defensive option given that Rio Ferdinand has experienced a drop in form and battles with constant niggling injuries. Nemanja Vidic is now 30 and is out for the rest of the season so there will be question marks over whether the Serbian can reach the heights he hit during his Old Trafford peak.
Chris Smalling and Phil Jones may well be more suited at full back and defensive midfield than in the centre of defence so there is scope for another addition but it may prove too ambitious to make a move for Pique.
A move to Chelsea seems even less likely given the fact that the West London side may well not secure a top four finish this term.