Carles Puyol is considering retiring from football due to a persistent knee injury, reports the Daily Mail.
The Spanish veteran has been a mainstay in the Barcelona defence since the turn of the century and has been the club captain for 10 years.
However, Puyol has only played four times in three months under Gerardo Martino having returned from two serious knee operations in October.
Now the 35-year-old has made plans to retire at the end of the season should his fortunes not improved and has told players and staff of his intentions.
Officials at the Nou Camp have now increased efforts to find a replacement for the Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 winner and have dispatched scouts to South America to widen the search.
According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea star David Luiz remains high on the shortlist for Barcelona.
The Brazilian centre-back has struggled to convince Jose Mourinho that he has a future at Stamford Bridge and Luiz is willing to leave to reignite his chances of making Brazil's World Cup squad.
Barcelona have been linked with a £29m bid for the Chelsea star in recent days but are understandably keen to evaluate cheaper alternatives before committing to an official bid.
Puyol has won 21 major honours with Barcelona including three Champions Leagues and six La Liga titles.
He has, however, been largely absent in recent seasons, only playing 12 times in the league last term.
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