When a friend of mine was first starting out, he was a little concerned about his income. He knew he had a good job but wasn’t sure how much he could make in the long run. He decided to give up half of his income to see if he could make his money stretch further. Without the money he was making, he was forced to make some tough decisions.

Michael Beasley is an American professional basketball player for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association (NBA). After playing for the Heat in their inaugural season in 1988, Beasley has played for the Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Boston Celtics. On February 20, 2010, Beasley was traded by the Celtics to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with Minnesota’s four-first round draft picks in exchange for Minnesota’s first round draft pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and the rights to sign and trade Leandro Barbosa.

One thing that people often assume when they retire is that they will be earning a lot more money than they were before. The truth, however, is that it’s very difficult to earn that much money once you’re not working. You may be earning a lot more than your friends and family, but it’s unlikely you’ll be earning enough to live on.

No one could have predicted that when Barcelona played their first competitive encounter without Lionel Messi as a member of the first-team roster in almost 17 years, they would create something as spectacular as virtually anything the Argentine wizard could accomplish at Camp Nou?

OK, the goal was excellent, but not earth-shatteringly so. Memphis Depay assisted Gerard Pique’s headed opening against Real Sociedad.

But the fact that Pique, a smart businessman, had sacrificed almost half of his income over the next three years in order for the club he loves to satisfy La Liga’s FFP rules and be permitted to sign Depay, Eric Garcia, and Rey Manaj made the goal even more momentous.

Try something different — something sublime.

– Ratings: Braithwaite, De Jong shine in first Barca victory post-Messi – Report: Barcelona defeat Real Sociedad in LaLiga opening

Consider it. Pique makes a financial gift that is perhaps unrivaled in professional football history, allowing the Dutchman to not only register with LaLiga, but also play against the Txuri-Urdin on Barca’s first night without Messi. Depay then lofts the ball perfectly into the line of Pique’s run, allowing him to smash the ball beyond Remiro in La Real’s goal with some kind of global karma. It would have been rejected by Hollywood as being too improbable and saccharine.

Earlier, during the warm-up, the Catalan had been greeted by a roar which was disproportionate to there only being around 30,000 fans in the house. They saw him as a “saviour,” and his goal duly prompted chants of “Pique President!” throughout what was, ultimately, a comfortable 4-2 victory in the Blaugrana’s season opener.

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Gerard, if you’re reading this, how do you feel about it? We’ve had a player-coach and a player-manager, but no top club has ever had a player-president since Barcelona’s founding over a century ago. Do you want to try it?

Those shouting for Pique’s instant president had no idea how Pique’s project got started, how well-thought out it was, or how much it had cost him.

At the Camp Nou, things are tumultuous, and although we all have our sources, it’s more difficult to get solid information when every single person is working harder than they’ve ever worked to stay afloat against the tidal flood of debt. However, if I’m reading the runes properly, Pique’s “investment” in keeping his team on track is twofold.

Pique, in the middle, is not only leading by example on the field for Barcelona, but also off it. Is he capable of becoming a good club president? It’s difficult to disagree with him. Getty Images/Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto

Some pay deferral — that is, he will be paid, but not for a long time — is a measure to offer Barcelona quick respite on their debts. But, more importantly, he’s foregoing a quantity of money (I mean, totally giving it up, people), which amounts to a substantial eight-figure sum spread out over three years. However, I’m told to believe that this president-in-waiting has eschewed the bonuses and incentives that are standard in any high-profile sports job deal. In other words, if Barcelona wins the Champions League and/or LaLiga in the coming seasons by a miracle, then giving up the “add-ons” in his contract relating to team and personal success would mean Pique foregoing an even larger eight-figure sum he was promised.

Of course, you are free to make your own conclusions. Unfortunately, some will be contemptuous. Yes, Pique is already affluent; yes, Shakira, his girlfriend, is also very wealthy. But two of the most common themes among the many wealthy men and women I’ve met are that “it’s never enough,” no matter how much money they have. The other is that even the wealthiest and most generous people treat returning money they’ve bargained and think they’ve earned with the same excitement that Dracula regards stakes, garlic, and sunshine.

If you can’t see this as a very important, clever, and likely one-of-a-kind gesture, then you should quit the discussion.

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Pique made sure the (long) on-pitch interview wasn’t all about him, his goal, or his salary gift-back after Sunday’s play, instead defending his other captains’ readiness to follow suit. (He also didn’t spend time pointing fingers at the “suit guys.”) FC Barcelona will run aground, he believes, unless everyone at the club starts rowing in the same direction right now. And it’s a disaster.

Jordi Alba subsequently used the word “timing” to describe Pique’s foresight in foregoing pay so that Barcelona could resume regular operations (in the near term).

Pique was ahead of the curve since he chose to forego a big eight-figure amount rather than the club’s. He was the one who took action. Pique has been preparing, soliciting views from people he respects, crunching statistics, and calculating the risk/reward/consequence equation for the last three weeks.

Real Sociedad was unexpectedly easy prey for Braithwaite and Barcelona in their first official post-Messi match. Getty Images/Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto

His initiative’s initial pillar was centered on personal ambition and fulfillment. After playing for Manchester United from 2004 to 2008, the 34-year-old Catalan determined long ago that he had no desire to try his luck with another foreign club. Barcelona, the city, his home, and his family felt the same way Leo Messi, his wife, and children did when the club’s terrible news was delivered to them. It was difficult to leave.

Barca seemed like “his” club more than anything else.

Pique posted a video of himself as a four-year-old, in the presence of his grandparents, respectfully seeking Ronald Koeman’s signature late Sunday night. It was shot approximately two years after Koeman scored the winning goal in the club’s first European Cup Final. Pique’s passion for his team has a long history, but that was the most recent historical reference. Anyway, having long ago determined that he wanted to play for Barcelona until he was 37, one of the most important factors in his thinking over the last three weeks has been a resolve not to coast. Pique was determined to win.

If you’ve carefully seen or listened to him, you’ll notice that it’s obvious that it’s not the playing that motivates him. It’s about competing, and it’s about competing hard, pushing oneself, and risking loss while yearning for success. These are the same motivations that drove his investment in FC Andorra (of which he is the main stakeholder) and his acquisition of the Davis Cup in tennis (with his friend and business partner Hiroshi Mikitani). On a lesser scale, the same thing that drives Pique’s poker obsession.

In order for Barcelona to be more competitive, especially without Messi, Depay and Garcia (both of whom had great performances against La Real) couldn’t be kept on the bench until January, when player registration reopened in Spain.

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Barcelona’s 4-2 victory against Real Sociedad in their first encounter without Lionel Messi is dissected by Frank Leboeuf.

Pique was investing in his team’s capacity to fight and joust for championships by giving a multimillion-euro amount back to the club.

Isn’t it what makes his bold action appear more logical? However, be honest. How much of what was contractually yours, by right, would you have dared to sacrifice in a similar situation? €10 million or €20 million? Less? More? Nothing? Be truthful.

We’re talking about a man who is completely devoted to the NBA. Pique calculated that a few of great “leader-players” in recent NBA history, capable of demanding mind-boggling, epoch-making personal agreements, surrendered (just a bit) to their organization because forcing as much pay as they could would have left their team less competitive and less likely to win.

If you want an example, consider LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2010.

Pique added another, often painful, component to his salary-reduction strategy: reality. He spoke with his parents, his girlfriend, and Arturo Canales, his very experienced, highly respected agent and 20-year buddy. While many of them provided him with concerns and counsel against his decision, they also played devil’s advocate, having been conditioned over many years to battle for and preserve large contracts.

Football as a business is merciless, has no memory or loyalty, and the karma of good deeds being repaid in kind is reserved for the naïve or very lucky. Pique was reminded by many voices that he was investing in an unproven Barcelona board. Would they utilize the windfall he (and, eventually, the other captains) were giving them wisely and honestly? This was widely agreed to be unsubstantiated.

Barcelona’s emotional, and unexpected, farewell to Messi has caused a lot of panic around the club, and not just the debt they’re carrying. But Pique & Co. showed they still have a dangerous squad that can compete for titles. Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pique made the decision a few months ago, after weighing all of the medical advice, to forego surgery on a torn inner knee ligament in order to return to the field more quickly last season and assist his club. It was a calculated risk, but it was still a risk. While the Champions League and LaLiga eluded him, he was rewarded with his 36th title when he and the rest of Koeman’s team won the Copa Del Rey. But who knows how long his knee will be able to withstand the rigors of top-flight football?

Hopefully, he will continue to play and earn until he is 37 years old, but there are no promises.

Who’s to say that after a few poor games, a few terrible outcomes, and a few (true or incorrect) media reports, some or all of those who were shouting “Pique Presidente” on Sunday night won’t be criticizing him and the rest of those who’ve made economic sacrifices instead? This was considered, taken into consideration, and accepted.

(Remember, this is the club that promised Eric Abidal a contract extension as soon as he recovered from cancer and started playing first-team football, only to shoo him out the back door.) We’re also talking about a president in Laporta who was part of an administration that froze Pique out of playing weekly football and helped force him out the door when Manchester United pipped Arsene Wenger to Pique’s signature when he was a youth-team prospect fighting for his contractual rights when he was 16.

None of this is meant to make Pique out to be a saint. He isn’t; he knows it, and anybody who has spent time on “Planet Pique” understands his ferocious anger and mulish determination to say exactly what he wants, no matter the repercussions. However, this is a major football player who has recently launched a unique project worth pausing to contemplate and comprehend. You can bet your last dollar (or 20 million dollars) that some of Europe’s best players and representatives are completely shocked by what has occurred.

Pique reminds me a lot of his former Manchester United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson was well aware that, throughout his brilliant career, his natural ability to confront threatening problems, play them out in his head, and then attack them fearlessly after performing actuarial calculations on the potential consequences, consistently put him ahead of his most zealous domestic rival managers.

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Pique has it as well. This is also the youngster who confessed to the late Michael Robinson many years ago that he and Cesc Fabregas used to sneak down to the Barceloneta seashore as bored young teens and steal fuel caps off parked vehicles. This is the same man who celebrated his high school graduation by partying with fellow graduates on a yacht owned by the parents of one of his classmates.

The large boat was unmoored, revved up, and going out to sea when the coast guards interfered. High spirits being what they are, and the parents being ignorant of the impromptu party, the big yacht was unmoored, revved up, and sailing out to sea when the coast guards intervened. I don’t comment on the ringleaders, but if you address this column’s topic as Rear Admiral Pique, he’ll understand why.

I’d also be lying if I didn’t confess that after the 2010 World Cup final, down in the depths of Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium, I was a part of Pique’s most notorious “goal-net cutting.” A nasty, obnoxious employee was lying about where the match nets were concealed, not only depriving Spain’s centre-back the opportunity to snip ‘n save even a little piece, but also sneering at him.

“All right, Graham, I’ll hit him, you grab those nets, and we’ll make a break for it,” said the man who had just hoisted Spain’s first-ever World Cup in front of a worldwide TV audience of billions 35 minutes before. I convinced Gerard that negotiating was preferable to pugilism in one of my rare clearly good choices.

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Sergino Dest, a defender for Barcelona and the United States Men’s National Team, comments on his experience playing with Lionel Messi after the striker joined PSG.

These discussions have been difficult, fascinating, and one-of-a-kind for the last three weeks, and they culminated in stunning results on Sunday night.

Many moons ago, when questioned by a Catalan radio journalist, Pique said that he hoped to one day become President of Camp Nou, but subsequent commercial endeavors seemed to indicate that his goal had shifted. Esports, tennis, social media growth, blockchain-supported fantasy football investment, film and documentary-making all seemed to be making his future-vision global, rather than micro.

I’m not so sure today. I believe he is still motivated by the possibility of leading the club he loves. Don’t forget that Pique was personally responsible for securing over €250 million in Rakuten sponsorship to FC Barcelona. If he does become the president of FC Barcelona, I believe it will be some time in the future, and against the opinion of most of his close confidants. However, new data suggests he’ll perform a much better job than Sandro Rosell, Josep Maria Bartomeu, or this version of Joan Laporta have done in the past.

Remember the ill-advised, supremely egotistical, and humiliatingly unveiled Super League proposal, through which Laporta remains inextricably linked to Florentino Perez? Who was the most prominent Spanish player to speak out against the idea? That’s right, you guessed it.

Pique, President? That’s what I’d say. Wouldn’t you agree?

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • gerard pique
  • pique meaning
  • shakira
  • pique retirement
  • shakira before pique
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