The World Cup winner moved to Old Trafford as a teenager after opting to leave Barca’s academy but, despite a number of encouraging displays and a successful loan at Real Zaragoza, he was sold back to his old club for just £5million.
Pique would come back to haunt United, beating the Red Devils in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, and he has enjoyed an illustrious and trophy-filled career back at Barca.
Ferdinand, though, says United were never in any doubt over Pique’s talent but – particularly after a horror show against Bolton – there was a feeling that his style did not fit English football.
‘It’s weird because the Gerard Pique when he was at Man United wasn’t the Gerard Pique we see at Barcelona now,’ explained Ferdinand on his YouTube channel.
‘We knew he had talent and we knew that this guy would do big things in the game.
‘But did I think he’d go on and do what he’s done? No. If I’m being honest. Definitely not in England.
‘His game maybe just wasn’t suited to the English way of playing.
‘If he was playing for Man City now it’d be very different, he could play in that team no problem because of the way they play, they have the ball.
‘I spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson who said he spoke to Pep Guardiola who said one of the key things and fundamental things in that team at Barcelona was getting Gerard Pique.
‘He was somebody you could see who believed in his own ability, he just needed that opportunity and at Man United he wasn’t getting it. And you’ve got to have that mindset.’