The past few seasons have been a tumultuous rollercoaster ride for Gerard Pique. His lackluster performances, cumbersome defending, and folly attitude on and off the pitch transformed the former FIFPro World XI winner into a punchline in a plethora of Shakira-related jokes. However, the start of this 2014/15 season bestowed upon us a resurgence of Pique's former self, and now that the wonder kid seems to have found his top form, Barça's improved back line may be the key to the silverware the team desperately needs.
Pique’s performance problems, though highly criticized more recently, truly began during Guardiola’s final season at Barcelona. The center back was persistently under the Catalan coach’s radar for failing to train properly with the team and, as the number of games he started slowly declined, so did his physical fitness and prowess. Pique managed to make only 22 La Liga appearances during Pep’s last stint at the Camp Nou. For many, the blame for the Spanish International’s distractions could only fall onto the shoulders of the Colombian-born singer, Shakira. The two, who became intimately involved on the set of her "Waka Waka" music video for the 2010 World Cup, were constantly photographed together and, on a couple of occasions, were even captured jet skiing and white-water rafting, activities strictly forbidden in the player’s contract.
Guardiola did everything he could to get Pique back on track, including hiring a private detective to spy on the defender’s actions, but, unfortunately, he was never successful. His love for Shakira had obviously surpassed his love for the club and the game.
After Pep’s departure from the club, Pique’s performance issues persisted throughout the following seasons. Critics and fans alike slammed him for his lazy tackles, poor aerial defending on set pieces, inaccurate passing, and consistently bad first touches which, in some cases, led to goal-scoring opportunities for the opposition.
With such a long period of disastrous performances, any other club would’ve sold him to the highest bidder years ago. Barcelona, however, kept him on the first team squad and, since the start of this current season, the decision, in hindsight, seems to have been a good one.
Gerard Pique, the still unmarried but now father of two, has finally returned to top form. His tackles are now pin-point accurate; his aerial defending is a nightmare for the competition; his ground and lobbed passes are spectacular and on an other-worldly level; and his touches on the ball are softer than a baby’s bottom on a warm, sunny day.