Gerard Pique Image Credit: Reuters

Barcelona: All eyes will be on strike duo Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as Barcelona visit Manchester United in the Champions League this week, but defensive lynchpin Gerard Pique is proving equally important to the Catalans’ treble bid.

The centre back returns to Old Trafford for the first time since he left Manchester United in 2008 to rejoin Barcelona, in Wednesday’s quarter-final first leg. Joining the Red Devils in 2004 from Barcelona as a 16-year-old. However, after a harrowing afternoon at Bolton Wanderers in 2007, the defender lost the confidence of then-coach Alex Ferguson. “I arrived at Manchester United a boy, and I left a man,” Pique said in the Player’s Tribune. “I walked into (Ferguson’s) office, and I was honest with him. I said, ‘Listen, I feel like I’ve lost your trust. Barcelona is my home. I want to go back. I hope you will let me go.’”

Pique returned to Barcelona for 5 million euros as a reserve with low expectations, but by the end of his first season under Pep Guardiola he had become a key player in the 2008-09 treble-winning side.

“I’m coming back to my second home,” wrote Pique on Twitter.