Gerard Pique is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world. The Barcelona center-back has won trophies such as the World Cup and Champions League as well as the personal award of being in the FIFA World XI.
But after a dismal season last year and a slow start to the current campaign, it is time to ponder the question if Gerard Pique is actually overrated or just a victim of his success at both club and country.
Despite the wonderful teams that Pique has been a part of, the overall success has certainly given the defender much more praise than his individual performance has warranted.
Many would venture to say that he is not actually at the level of the best defenders in the world, but this is simply not true either.
Through every circumstance that Gerard Pique has faced, it is apparent that he is a world-class defender, though his team success has certainly brought more praise than the Catalan defender truly deserves.
On the International Level
Gerard Pique has been a staple figure in the Spanish national team and has won nearly everything a player can at the international level.
The Spanish defender was a member of the fabled World Cup championship team in 2010 where he partnered with Carles Puyol in the backline. But Pique was also one of the established stars that led Spain to the more recent Euro 2012 championship.
At the international level, Pique has seen the limelight on many occasions. He has been one of the faces of the national team, yet he has not had to lead the backline to this point.
On almost every occasion, Pique has partnered with another world-class defender such as Carles Puyol and Sergio Ramos. When paired with another star, the Catalan appears to be one of the world’s best.
But Pique has not looked as sharp when the defensive load has been on his shoulders. Though Pique has been bathed in trophies with Spain, he is clearly the supporting defender in the center of the back four.
At the club level
Just as Pique has won huge trophies with Spain, he has also won everything imaginable with Barcelona. The tall defender has been privileged enough to lift the Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey and other important trophies with the Catalan giants.
But again it appears as though the overall club success has given Pique more attention than his personal performances have earned.
Though Gerard Pique appears to be a perfect fit for the Barcelona system, his overall play as a center-back has left the Catalans in danger many times. Last season, Pique succumbed to his worst form of his career which resulted in being benched multiple times by Pep Guardiola (via Goal).
When Pique is lined up beside Carles Puyol, Barcelona boasts one of the best defenses in the world. But when Pique is missing his captain, the Barcelona backline becomes very suspect, as evidenced in their Super Cup loss to Real Madrid at the beginning of the season.
Also, for the majority of last season, Pique was a liability. But the defender was clearly at his worst when Puyol was out of the lineup due to injury.
Again, Pique appears to be one of the best in the world when playing alongside another dominant defender. But alone, Pique's weaknesses are exploited.
But another question may be needed in judging the previous season of Gerard Pique. Has the defender actually faced scrutiny solely because he is in the limelight of Barcelona?
The fact of the matter may be that so much has been expected of Pique since he is a player for the best club in recent decades. Being associated with the name alone might be stifling the judgment of Pique’s actual ability.
It may be best to see Pique’s role for both club and country as a support defender rather than a leader. But for Barcelona, the Catalan will soon have to become the defensive leader as Puyol is beginning to age.
What about the current season?
In reaction to having his worst season in history, Gerard Pique now appears to be back to his best form, which helped Barcelona and Spain win major trophies in recent years (via ESPN).
His recent performances in games such as the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey prove that Pique is becoming an even better player. But the most important thing for Barcelona is that Pique now appears to be growing as the defensive leader.
Until this season, it was clear that Pique was receiving most of his praise for the success of his team rather than his own form. The Catalan was clearly not deserving of his spot in the FIFA World XI, but his inclusion only goes to show that he is receiving more praise than he deserves.
But that does not mean that Pique is not a world-class defender. In fact, this season has proved that Pique can be among the best defenders around. But consistency will be very vital for his future.
The problem, however, lies in the fact that Pique will always be judged on the success of his team rather than the success of himself.
Pique is simply a world-class defender, but he has also fallen victim to his success. The defender fits Barcelona and Spain like a glove, but outside of his teams, Pique would not be praised as much as he currently is.
The Barcelona center-back is showing signs that he could become one of the best in the world, but at the moment he still has a lot to prove on the individual level.
Is Gerard Pique overrated or just a victim of his own success? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.