Barcelona identify player to sign in other to force Gerard Pique to retire |

Barcelona identify player to sign in other to force Gerard Pique to retire

Barcelona have reportedly lined up Sevilla defender Jules Kounde as a potential replacement for veteran center-back Gerard Pique, who has fallen behind in the pecking order.

Pique has recently been in the eye of the hurricane due to his separation from Shakira and his off-the-pitch antics at nightclubs.

Despite featuring in 40 games across competitions for the Blaugrana last season, the 35-year-old is considered to be past his best.

According to El Nacional, Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has asked club president Joan Laporta and sporting director, Mateu Alemany, to snap up Kounde.

The report also added that the club hierarchy has identified the 23-year-old as the one to replace Pique in the first team.

Earlier, Laporta had recommended the option of retirement to Pique, as the player allegedly ceased to be a good example for the rest of his teammates.

As per the report, Pique rejected the idea, as he still feels he’s prepared to help the team in a considerable capacity.

Pique, who has two years left on his current deal at the Camp Nou, is currently running the risk of becoming a benchwarmer next season

While Ronald Araujo has become a mainstay at the heart of the Blaugrana defense in the last two seasons, new signing Andreas Christensen will be keen to impress too.

If the  Blaugrana seals a reported €60 million transfer for Kounde, Pique could spend large swathes of next season on the sidelines.

Since his return to Barcelona in 2008, Pique has made 603 appearances for the club, registering 53 goals and 13 assists

He has also helped the club lift a staggering 30 trophies, including eight La Liga and three UEFA Champions League titles.

Meanwhile, the La Liga outfit opened their pre-season with a 1-1 draw against Spanish fifth-division side UE Olot in a domestic friendly on July 13.

The Blaugrana will next face Inter Miami, Real Madrid, Juventus, and New York Red Bulls in the United States.

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