The center-back was forced off just before the hour mark after suffering a heavy knock in a challenge with Angel Correa. Pique appeared to be almost in tears as he limped off the pitch.
United States international Sergino Dest replaced Pique for the final half an hour of the clash and took over at right-back, with Sergi Roberto moving into midfield and Frenkie de Jong switching back to center-back to partner Clement Lenglet.
Barca also lost Roberto to a problem in stoppage time. The 28-year-old was taken off in the final minutes after appearing to injure his thigh while shooting from range.
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Barca Short of Center-Backs
Pique’s injury is a real problem for Barcelona who will be hoping the knock is not too serious ahead of a busy run of fixtures. The team are already without defenders Ronald Araujo and Samuel Umtiti, leaving Lenglet as their only fit senior center-back.
Barca B’s Oscar Mingueza was included in the squad for the Atletico game, but the 21-year-old lacks experience and has not yet featured for the senior team. De Jong is an option to continue in defense but is also needed in midfield with Sergio Busquets currently out.
The Catalan giants still have 10 games left to play between now and the end of the year at home and abroad. Barca must complete their Champions League group stage with games against Dynamo Kiev, Ferencvaros, and Juventus.
Koeman’s men also face some tricky La Liga fixtures in December against Real Sociedad and Valencia. It’s a demanding run for the Catalan giants who can’t afford to drop many more points if they are to have any chance of challenging for the title.
Barca to Buy in January?
Pique’s injury serves to highlight Barca’s lack of options in defense and may strengthen Koeman’s resolve to sign a center-back in the January transfer window. The club want to bring Eric Garcia back from Manchester City but must sell before they can buy.
Garcia is out of contract in the summer and available to leave the Premier League side as a free agent, but Barca may not want to wait until then and could try to do business when the window opens.
Barca have also been linked with a loan move if they are unable to sign Garcia. According to Sport, the Catalan giants could try to bring in a low-cost option with plenty of experience.
The report suggests players such as Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger, Liverpool defender Joel Matip and Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi are all potential options to come in and give Koeman more options for the second half of the season.