sport

Puyol confirms Barcelona exit

Long-serving Barcelona defender Carles Puyol has announced he will leave the Catalan giants at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old centre-back has spent his entire career with the Spanish champions, having made his first-team debut in 1999.

But he has made just 12 appearances this season after battling knee injuries.

Puyol has been a key figure in Barcelona's and Spain's recent achievements, helping Spain win the 2010 World Cup two years after their European Championship triumph.

Puyol made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

He 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 defender, who only signed his contract extension with Barca a year ago, has seen his career disrupted by injuries.

In his career, he has suffered a total of 36 injuries in 15 campaigns with the first team, eight of which have been knee problems.

This season, he has been limited to just five appearances in La Liga, one in the Champions League and six in the Copa del Rey.

He said: "After two recent surgeries, it has become harder for me to recover the level that I demand of myself and that I need to be at to play here."

As to what he plans to do after leaving the Nou Camp, Puyol admits he is not sure yet - save to take a break.

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

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

Puyol made 100 appearances for Spain between 2000 and 2013, helping them to the top of the world football ladder and he has been the warrior defender for Barcelona, helping the Catalan club to 21 trophies including three Champions Leagues.

He has made 593 appearances for the Catalan giants and is the second most capped player in the club's history behind current team-mate Xavi.