Puyol to leave Barcelona - Five players who could replace him

Players from Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and FC Porto feature.

The 35-year-old central defender who played an instrumental role for the Spanish giants has decided to leave at the end of the season because he cannot compete at the level he wishes.

Speaking at a press conference he said the following:

"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,"

"That is why I have taken this decision.

"There are three months of the season left and I won't be giving up."

Even though Puyol's form has been declining in recent times there is no doubting his influence at the Catalan club. Puyol appeared nearly 400 times for Barcelona in their most successful period ever  

He will be solely missed and the Spanish side may turn to the transfer market to bolster their defensive options ahead of next season. Here is five possible targets for Gerardo Martino's men:

Nemanja Vidić- The Serbian defender could be a target for Barcelona as he is leaving Manchester United on a free transfer at the end of the season. Although not a long-term replacement for the Barcelona captain, Vidic could certainly offer the Catalan's some much needed experience and despite his high wage demands, would be a cheap option.

David Luiz - The versatile Brazilian has reportedly been on Barcelona's radar for sometime now and could Puyol's exit spark the Catalan's into making a move for the long haired Chelsea man? Jose Mourinho has hinted that he would be open to offers for the defender. Luiz is a ball-playing centre-half which will suit Barca. 

Eliaquim Mangala - Mangala who was linked with Barcelona's Champions League opponents Manchester City in January, could fit the bill for a long-term replacement following Puyol's exit. The highly-rated Frenchman is set to leave Portugal this summer as Porto are looking a doubt for the Champions League next season.

Thiago Silva - Possibly one of the greatest defenders on the planet at the moment. Silva would add big game experience, aerial presence, pace and sheer strength to Barcelona's defensive line. Martino would need to break the bank to prise him away from PSG, but Silva would struggle to turn down the four-time European Champions

Daniel Agger - The link that never seems to go away, Agger has been tipped for a move to Spain for a few seasons. With Puyol leaving the club, does it open the door for Agger to finally make his move from Merseyside to Barcelona?   


Who should Barcelona sign to replace Puyol, or will his replacement come from their youth set up?


image: © katratzi

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