Gerard Pique shocked the football world on Thursday by announcing his retirement from the game with immediate effect. Football Club Barcelona's home game against Almeria on Saturday will be his final outing in the famous maroon and blue strip.

The Barcelona legend, who spent most of his career with the Catalan club, has given the financially ailing outfit a €30 million parting gift. Pique has reportedly decided to walk away from the remainder of his contract, which includes a hefty amount of back payments.

Apart from the Europa League, Pique has won every other club honour with Barcelona, while also winning both the World Cup and European Championship with Spain. In recent times, the central defender has struggled with injuris, and has fallen out of favour under Xavi with the Spanish coach preferring younger options.

The 35-year-old has also been mired in controversy away from the pitch, which includes his recent split from long-term partner Shakira. Pique was expected to complete the 2022-23 campaign, with his current deal expiring in the summer of 2024.

However, the Barcelona legend has made the decision to walk away from the game when La Liga takes a break for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this month. Pique made the announcement through a video, which was shared on his social media channels.

"Culers, it's Gerard," he started off saying in the video. "The last few weeks and months, many people have been talking about me. Until now, I haven't said anything, but now I want to be the one talking about me."

"I've always said that there would be no other team after Barcelona and that's how it will be. This Saturday's game will be my last at the Camp Nou. I will become another fan and support the team and pass my love for Barcelona onto my kids, like parents did for me..."

Pique has not been starting in La Liga for Barcelona, with Xavi preferring to deploy Jules Kounde and Eric Garcia at centre-back. Even Marcos Alonso has moved ahead of the Spaniard in recent games, but he is likely to get the nod at least from the bench when Almeria visit the Camp Nou this weekend.

Gerard Pique
Gerard Pique AFP / Josep LAGO