Gerard Pique has been sidelined with a knee injury suffered in November against Atletico Madrid but is keen to make his Barcelona return in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain.
The French champions visit the Camp Nou for the first leg of their last 16 tie on February 16 and Pique “would like to play” in the match, according to Adrià Albets at Cadena SER.
It looks an ambitious target for Pique, particularly as he has not yet returned to team training. However, Albets reports the center-back “has been running for several days continuously” and his recovery is said to be going “at a very good pace.”
However, Pique has also been advised not to rush his return. The report notes that those close to the 33-year-old have urged him to be “prudent” and advised him to wait until the end of the month before making his comeback.
The second leg of Barcelona’s clash against PSG is scheduled for March 10 at the Parc des Princes. It still seems unlikely Pique will play in the first fixture but he could well be back in action in time for the trip to Paris.
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Araujo Shining For Barcelona
Pique’s injury has seen 21-year-old Ronald Araujo come into the team at center-back and shine in place of the former Spain international. Araujo has yet to taste defeat in a Barcelona shirt so far this season in La Liga and has looked very impressive.
⚠️ | QUICK STAT
After tonight, 959 different outfield players played at least 10 full matches (900 minutes) in the top 5 European leagues this season.
Barcelona's central defender Ronald Araújo is the only one who hasn't been dribbled past at least once. pic.twitter.com/ZJvAQwG17K
— SofaScore (@SofaScoreINT) January 31, 2021
The youngster has also spoken about how Pique has had a big influence on his Barcelona career in a recent interview with Mundo Deportivo.
His experience has always been one thing that I have looked at since I arrived and more now that I share a dressing room with him. I like to look at the characteristics of each player but from Gerard I like to look at how he plays with the ball, which is something that I felt was missing from my play, and also that he is a defender who is not very fast but is always well positioned. I pay attention to that a lot. Every day I try to get a little information out of him in every game and in every training session.
Barcelona also have Clement Lenglet, fit-again Samuel Umtiti, and youngster Oscar Mingueza available to play at center-back, meaning there is no need to rush Pique back and risk aggravating his injury further.
Ansu Fati To Return Against PSG?
Pique is not the only Barcelona player hoping to make his comeback from injury against PSG. Teenage forward Ansu Fati is also sidelined after he was originally ruled out for four months after undergoing knee surgery in November.
Barcelona are hopeful the 18-year-old will be fit in time to play in the Champions League and have marked the second leg of the clash as a potential return date for the youngster, according to Albert Roge at Sport.
The return of both Pique and Fati for such a crucial game would be a big boost to the Catalan giants who have improved after a tough start to the season. Ronald Koeman’s men are on a 10-game unbeaten streak in La Liga and into the quater-finals of the Copa del Rey.