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Balague: End of an era

Guillem Balague says Carles Puyol set the standards for everyone at Barcelona and in Spain.

Last Updated: 04/03/14 at 20:25 Post Comment

The 35-year-old centre-back announced on Tuesday that he will leave the Catalan club at the end of the season, 15 years after making his first-team debut in 1999.

Sky Sports' Spanish football expert Guillem Balague told Sky Sports News that the defender, who had suffered with knee injuries for the past few seasons, set the values for every player around him at his club and when representing his country.

"Is there anybody greater than him? It's a debate because he's always been their number one," said Balague.

"He's won six leagues, three Champions Leagues, one World Cup, a European Championships - his curriculum, nobody has.

"For me, Puyol is not just that, Puyol is values; when Thiago and Dani Alves celebrated a goal like Brazilians do, he came back and grabbed them in the middle of the pitch and said, 'that's not the way to celebrate goals.'

"When David Villa was at Valencia, you know they do these ice baths at the end of the game? Villa was always forgetful about them, he had to pick up his daughter or his girlfriend but when he was at Barcelona, he said that the first two guys going in to those ice baths were Puyol and Xavi, so you had to do it.

"All in all, he's a guy that has represented both Spain and Barcelona at the highest level possible and that's set standards for everybody else; that you cannot buy, that's something you have in him and he's a leader."

Rest

Balague also said that he feels that Puyol will not make an appearance at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil for reigning champions Spain and that retirement from football altogether could be on the cards this summer.

Balague added: "Del Bosque (Vincente) has said that he is waiting for Puyol to say one way or the other.

"At the press conference today, he said was going to rest this summer, you don't think rest this summer means going to Brazil.

"I heard that these knee injuries were so painful in the last couple of months or so that he would sometimes just disappear from Barcelona, sometimes even his family and go to Majorca where he's got a house and just cry in pain.

"He wasn't enjoying it any more and it was quite clear that something was going to happen pretty soon - he's going to be 36 in April - and he has decided to leave Barcelona but he's left the door open to something else; perhaps he will compete at a different level, in Malaysia or Qatar or something like that.

"What he's going to do certainly in the summer is rest and he won't be involved in the World Cup and after that make a decision.

"Retirement is a possibility in the summer, it's the end of an era."

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