Barcelona vice-captain Gerard Pique is undoubtedly one of the best defenders of his generation, with the classy center back still going strong for the Catalan giants at the age of 34. However, it goes without saying that his days at the Camp Nou are numbered, as he approaches the twilight years of his career.
While Pique manages to perform well whenever he's on the pitch, he has been hampered by injuries in recent seasons. Barcelona are unlikely to ship him off, but he is likely to be phased out of the team in the coming seasons, as the Catalans look to move on from one of their greatest ever defenders.
Having rejoined the club from Manchester United in 2009, Pique has won every trophy at club level and cemented his status as one of the greats of the game. Known for his positional sense, ball-playing ability and leadership qualities, the Spaniard had no glaring weakness to his game and was virtually impenetrable on his day.
In the past two seasons, though, his powers have waned a little bit owing to injuries and his age. Barcelona are likely to seek his long-term replacement in the coming months and here are five players who could take over the reins from the legendary Spaniard.
#5 Oscar Mingueza | Barcelona
Barcelona might not have to look too far for Gerard Pique's replacement. In what has been one of the most intriguing subplots of their season, Oscar Mingueza's emergence has been a welcome boost for the Catalans, with the 21-year-old delivering a series of eye-catching displays at the back since making his debut under Ronald Koeman.
Mingueza is also capable of playing as a right-back and has been with Barcelona since 2007. Having been chosen to deputize for Pique in a UEFA Champions League encounter against Dinamo Kyiv, the young defender has gone on to make 21 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona, scoring two goals in the process.
Pique will mentor Mingueza in the coming months, as Barcelona look to kickstart a new era under Koeman.
#4 Ronald Araujo | Barcelona
Another in-house option on the list, Ronald Araujo has also featured more often than expected for Barcelona this season. Due to injuries to Pique and Samuel Umtiti, Barcelona were forced into using Araujo and Mingueza -- two players who were on the fringes of the squad -- more often than they planned to initially.
Koeman's faith in the youngster has paid dividends so far, as he seems more than capable of holding his own against some of the best attackers in La Liga. A towering central defender who likes to play on the front foot, Araujo has made 17 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona in what has been a breakthrough season for him.
Barcelona have high hopes for the Uruguayan, who looks more confident at the heart of the defense with each passing game.