Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has announced he will be leaving the Spanish champions at the end of the season.
The 35-year-old Spain international had a contract with Barca until 2016 but has reached an agreement with the club to rescind the final two years of the deal.
Puyol, who has spent his entire career at Barcelona and made his first-team debut in 1999, made the announcement at a press conference on Monday 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.”
The defender, who only signed his contract extension with Barca a year ago, has seen his career disrupted by injuries with 36 over 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 recoverthe level I demand of myself.”
As to what he plans to do after leaving the Nou Camp, Puyol admits he is not sure yet – save to take a break.
Puyol came through Barca’s youth ranks and made his Primera Division debut in the 2-0 victory at Real Valladolid in October 1999.
He has made 593 appearances for the Catalan giants and is the second most capped player in the club’s history behind Xavi.
During his time with the first team, Puyol has won numerous trophies, including six La Liga titles, three Champions League crowns, two Spanish Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.
The veteran central-back was also a pillar of the Spanish national side, making 100 appearances for La Roja between 2000 and 2013.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Diego Costa when he makes his Spain debut in tonight’s friendly against Italy in Madrid.
The Atletico Madrid forward will play for La Roja for the first time since announcing last year his intention to represent Spain rather than his home country Brazil.
“It was a complicated decision at the time,” Costa said. “But it was a choice that I gave a lot of thought to and I tried to do the right thing.
“Spain showed an interest and I felt wanted.”
Italy have not beaten Spain since a friendly in 2011 and the last time the sides met was last year in the semi-final of the Confederations Cup in Brazil, where Spain needed penalties to beat the Azzurri.
“We will try to attack Spain, as we did in the Confederations Cup, and force the world champions to defend themselves,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said.
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