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(UK time) 19:09:20

Premier League

19 February 2012

Man United to rival Chelsea in fight to capture former defender

Barcelona centre back Gerard Pique linked with Manchester United return

Man United to rival Chelsea in fight to capture former defender

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Manchester United and Chelsea are both thought to be pondering moves to sign Gerard Pique following rumours that the World Cup-winning centre back is out of favour at 13/10 Champions League favourites Barcelona.

The 25-year-old has long appeared to have all that a footballer could desire: a regular place in the best club and international sides in the world, a glamorous girlfriend and a home in his city of birth, but his star has fallen slightly in recent months.

Pique’s return to Barcelona in 2008 has coincided with their rise a level that has seen them labelled the most impressive team in history, however he has also emerged lately as the main scapegoat of their toughest campaign since scaling those heights.

A series of below-par performances climaxed in a disastrous display in the 3-2 defeat to Osasuna last week that all but handed Real Madrid – now 1/20 favourites – the La Liga title.

And despite Pique playing a decisive role in all of their trophy triumphs, Pep Guardiola was willing to make the bold call to drop him in midweek for the away leg of their Champions League round-of-16 clash with Bayer Leverkusen.

The Barca boss claims that he wasn’t punishing the Spain international and was instead resting him for Sunday night’s match with Valencia, which they are 2/7 favourites in, though the Catalan press don’t seem overly convinced by that explanation.

Guardiola says that Pique remains “untouchable”, yet with several stories suggesting that the European champions will swoop for AC Milan defender Thiago Silva in the summer, the validity of that statement is open to question.

Reports in England indicate that Chelsea and former employers Manchester United, who are 11/8 to successfully defend their Premier League title this season, will lead the queue if he is made available.

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