'We had to win the title twice over': Gerard Pique lauds Barcelona's La Liga triumph
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique hailed the winning mentality of what he described as a 'unique generation' of players, after the Catalans sealed a sixth La Liga title in eight years with a 3-0 win at Granada on Saturday
Barcelona: Barcelona defender Gerard Pique hailed the winning mentality of what he described as a "unique generation" of players, after the Catalans sealed a sixth La Liga title in eight years with a 3-0 win at Granada on Saturday.
Fittingly, Luis Suarez was Barca's hero with a hat-trick to take his tally for the season to 59, including 14 in his last five games, as Luis Enrique's men recovered from an alarming April slump to win their last five matches by a combined score of 24-0. Barca lost three consecutive league games for the first time in 13 years and a 12-point lead over Real Madrid came down to just a single point.
"For the circumstances we have had to win it two times. When we were nine or 10 points ahead we had it won and then with the dip there was a moment when it seemed like we had lost it, despite the fact it was still in our own hands," Pique told Movistar+. "There is the sensation that 20 or 25 years ago this club wouldn't have won it because we would have drowned in our own pessimism, but I think this generation and this team has changed that. It is a winning team that, despite the difficult circumstances, has stood up to be counted. You can trust in this team because we continue to win titles."
Suarez's remarkable goalscoring season saw him become the first player in seven years to depose teammate Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Pichichi trophy as La Liga's top scorer. Moreover, the Uruguayan's 40 league goals is more than anyone has ever struck in a single La Liga season bar Messi and Ronaldo.
"We are deserving champions. We had to suffer, the pressure was put on us in the final few games, but this team is built to win titles," said the former Liverpool striker. "The 40 goals is thanks to all of my teammates, not just one or two because if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be enjoying this league title."
Barca boss Luis Enrique lauded his side's consistency after leading for the vast majority of the campaign. "We played very well over the course of the season. We were top for many weeks and the most consistent team wins the title," said Enrique. "We have won six of the last eight titles, which shows the club has a winning mentality. We must value each title win because each one is very difficult."
Barca could follow up last season's treble triumph with a double should they beat Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final next Sunday. And Enrique defended his side's record despite bowing out of the Champions League to Atletico Madrid at the quarter-final stage. "We set out at the start of the season to win all trophies again as nobody had ever done. Sometimes people think not winning one is a disaster, but we know how difficult it is to win trophies," he added. "In history just two teams have previously won consecutive doubles. We always set high objectives for ourselves and we will continue to do that."
Atlético said De Paul joined the club on a five-year contract. He had been with Italian club Udinese since 2016.
In his previous contract, signed in 2017, Messi earned a massive 138 million euros ($163 million) per season.
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The Brazilian superstar Neymar enjoyed a successful spell at Barca between 2013 and 2017 before joining Paris Saint-Germain for a then world record €222 million ($261 million).