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Carles Puyol confirms Barcelona exit

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The long-serving Barcelona defender and captain Carles Puyol have confirmed he will leave the club at the end of the season.

Puyol, 35, has only played for Barcelona throughout his entire career, appearing in his 593rd game against Almeria on Saturday.

A recurring knee injury has limited Puyol to just 12 appearances this season and Barcelona are believed to be actively searching for a replacement regardless of whether he left in the summer or not.

Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday, Puyol said: "I want to announce that at the end of the season I will no longer be a Barcelona player.

"There are three months of the season left and I will not give up. I will help the team."

The Spanish international started in the Barcelona youth team as a 17-year-old, making 80 games before being promoted.

During a 15-year spell in the first team Puyol has won three Champions League trophies and 21 major titles overall.

He has also helped Spain to the 2008 European Championship title and the Fifa World Cup two years later.

However, the same knee injury forced him to sit out Spain's successful defence of their European title in 2012 and Puyol cites his fitness issues as a main instigator in his decision.

"After the last two operations it has been difficult for me to recover the level I need to be able to continue here, more than I expected," said Puyol. "That is why I have taken this decision."

Although being linked with a move to the MLS, Puyol insists he does not know what he will do when his contract expires at the end of June.

"I don't know what I will do after 30 June, but I'm sure that in the summer I will rest," he added.

"I would like to have a news conference at the end of the season to say a proper goodbye after a total of 19 years at the club."

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