Barcelona defender Gerard Pique is reportedly ready to ignore advice from the club’s medical team to rest in order to play in the team’s La Liga clash with Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Pique has been advised to take a week off after suffering discomfort in his calf at the end of Barcelona’s opening La Liga game of the season against Real Sociedad on Sunday, according to Catalunya Radio.
However, the central defender, who missed large chunks of last season with a knee problem, has trained normally this week and wants to play in Sunday’s fixture at San Mames.
Pique started alongside Eric Garcia in central defense in the 4-2 win over La Real and scored the game’s opening goal with a header from a free-kick into the penalty area from Memphis Depay.
Coach Ronald Koeman will announce his matchday squad for the trip to Athletic on Friday and could provide an update on Pique’s condition at his pre-match press conference.
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Mingueza Adds to Koeman’s Defensive Options
Koeman does have plenty of options if it is decided that Pique needs to rest and is not included against Athletic. The Dutchman has Garcia, Ronald Araujo, and Clement Lenglet fit and available for the trip to the Basque country..
Samuel Umtiti is also a possible option but was left out of the matchday squad for the game against La Real amid speculation he will leave before the close of the transfer window. Barca has reportedly given Umtiti one week to find a new club.
Oscar Mingueza is also closing in on a return to full fitness after picking up a hamstring injury playing for Spain at the Tokyo Olympics. The 22-year-old returned to full training with the team on Thursday.
Pique Excited About Barcelona Future
Koeman would obviously prefer to have Pique available, particularly as the center-back has been influential on and off the field since the shock departure of captain Lionel Messi.
Pique agreed a substantial salary reduction before the win over La Real, which allowed new signings Memphis Depay and Garcia to be registered in time for the game, and went on to score the goal that set his team up for a morale-boosting win.
The center-back was also happy to speak about the match and the club’s future on Twitch after the final whistle and made it clear there is a lot to be excited about at the Camp Nou, as reported by Football Espana.
“It was a great game, In the aftermath of Leo and everything related to his exit I think that this win gives the team a lot of confidence, we’re very excited,” he said. “It’s true that nothing will ever be the same again as when we had Leo, but I think we have a good enough team to get people excited, to compete for titles until the end of the season. Today was the first step toward that. I was fortunate enough to score, which was an important goal because it was the first and I think it calmed us down for the rest of the game. We felt the fans by our side, which was by far the most important thing of the day.”
The Catalan giants will be hoping to follow up an opening day win over Real Sociedad with a first away victory of the new campaign at Athletic. Barca’s last trip to San Mames came back in April when Koeman’s side ran out 4-0 winners in the Copa del Rey.