sport

Pique expects return to top

Defender Gerard Pique believes Barcelona have everything they need to get back to winning ways next season and put a rare barren year at the Nou Camp behind them.

Barca were left without a major honour for the first time in six seasons this campaign after finishing second in La Liga, runners-up in the Copa del Rey and being knocked out of the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

That led to the departure of Gerardo Martino as coach after just one season at the helm, with former Barca player Luis Enrique being appointed his successor on a two-year contract.

Pique has been impressed with what he has seen from the new boss so far, and is feeling optimistic about the future.

"I'm very excited," said Pique. "During his press conference, he showed he has very clear ideas. He knows the place well and I think he will give us a lot. I'm looking forward to starting work under him.

"Barcelona have to be up there in everything, winning tiles and being amongst the elite of European and world football. We have the team, the coach... we have all the ingredients to get back there."

Pique was speaking after signing his new contract extension which ties him to his home-town club until June 30, 2019.

The 27-year-old Spain international, who rejoined Barca in 2008 after spending four years at Manchester United, said: "Knowing that I could live out my career here is a big boost for me.

"I hope we can enjoy as many successes as we have in recent years."

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu added on his club's website: "It is very important to keep Gerard Pique at Barcelona. He's the best centre back in the world. He is a core part of the new project here at Barcelona."