Return to Play: UEFA is preparing for the safe return of its elite competitions.

Learn more >

Piqué performer

Spanish defender Gerard Piqué cannot wait to work under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.

By Adrian Clarke

Seven-year itch 
The 17-year-old defender upset the Catalan giants by making a sudden move to Manchester United FC earlier this summer, after they spent seven years grooming him for stardom at the Camp Nou. But the highly-rated youth international, who signed a five-year deal at Old Trafford, insists that his career prospects have been enhanced by his decision to play in England.

Great opportunity
"Sir Alex Ferguson told me what Manchester United were going to do for me and what they were expecting from me in return and after listening to him, I thought it was a great opportunity for me to grow as a player and to experience playing abroad," Piqué told

Hard work
"He said that I would be part of the club's future if I worked hard and that was enough to convince me to join. Barcelona weren't pleased by my decision, but they have to understand that if they don't take care of a players' aspirations it's logical that they will accept another club's offer. That's what I did, to further my career. I feel calm about that decision - but I will always have Barcelona in my heart."

Prepared to be patient
Piqué's move to the Premiership came shortly after another Barcelona youngster, Cesc Fabregas, departed for Arsenal FC last season. But, even though Fabregas has made rapid strides at Highbury - starring in their opening-day 4-1 victory over Everton FC - Piqué says he is prepared to be patient and wait for his first-team opportunities at Old Trafford.

Waiting game
"Nobody knows how long it will take for me to get into United's first team," he admitted. "First of all I have to adapt to the English way of life, the different style of football and the new language. I will give it everything I have got and then perhaps in two years' time I will be in the team.

Warm welcome
"Everyone at United has welcomed me warmly and I am always getting offers of help. I cannot feel alone here which is fantastic. It's different in Manchester compared to Barcelona but I am here to complete my football education, which is why it's the best place for me to stay. Of course, I miss my family and friends and the routine of my old life in Spain but this is my new home now and I hope to have many years in front of me in England."

Big future
Despite being tipped to be a key player in the full Spanish international set-up one day, Piqué is still something of an unknown quantity in England. But the teenager is eager to tell fans what they can expect to see when he is finally given the chance to shine.

Aerial strength
"The fans at Manchester United don't know me yet, but if I had to describe myself I'd say I was a typical defender," he said. "I am hard to beat, I have good control and I am strong in the air. As a child I modelled myself on Ronald Koeman who was a great player for Barcelona. I grew up watching him and I thought he was a very clever defender. My aim is to help this club to win many more titles. After I have achieved that, I would love to go on to play for Spain."