Date: 8th April 2008 at 9:48am
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It’s a big week for Gerard Pique: he will start a Champions League quarter-final and possibly a vital league game against Arsenal.

It has been reported earlier that Pique is considering leaving Old Trafford where he does not see much of a future with Rio and Vidic playing the best football of their careers. Atletico Madrid, Zaragoza and Villarreal were all said to be interested even though Pique refused every offer during the summer.

Now, as he prepares to undertake first team duties, he concedes that the campaign so far has been nothing short of frustrating for him, with only very limited opportunities, often in meaningless games. But his desire and confidence is still the same.

‘I’m ready,’ he declared. ‘I’ve waited a long time to get a chance in a game like this. It’s what I dreamt of when I left Barcelona.

‘It’s been frustrating because the manager told me in the summer that I would figure in his plans but Rio and Vida have been playing so well that I haven’t had a chance
.

Fair enough and that’s why those who harp on about our lack of defensive cover should need to get things into perspective. Name one quality defender who is better than Pique, Evans, Brown, O’Shea and Silvestre and still content to sit on the bench watching the world’s best centre-back pair in action. Not one springs to my mind, somehow.

But back to Pique who’s already got considerable Champions League experience, having scored twice in the competition – to put it into perspective, Vidic and Ferdinand have got one each so far in a United shirt. He believes that United’s maturity could see us go all the way.

‘We are more mature as a team this season. People said we struggled last year when Rio and Vida were injured and we were knocked out of the Champions League by Milan but I think we are stronger now.’

Well, Pique was away at Zaragoza last time so if he implies that we are stronger because he is back – well, then here’s the perfect opportunity to back this up with a performance to remember.