6 Potential Destinations for Carles Puyol
Carles Puyol is leaving Barcelona this summer.
The long-time captain, who will turn 36 in April, made the announcement at a Tuesday press conference and also revealed he would make a decision about his future on June 30, as per the club’s official website.
“I don’t know what I’ll do after June 30, but what I am sure of is that when the season ends I’m going to need some rest,” he said, adding, “After that, we’ll see what happens.”
Already a handful of clubs—both in Europe and North America—have made initial inquiries as to Puyol’s signature, and the defender, who earns €10 million per season according to Marca, will be available as a free agent after agreeing to cancel the final two years of his current pact at Camp Nou.
Following are six possible destinations for the six-time La Liga champion and 2010 World Cup winner.
6. New York City FC
Puyol’s decision to leave Barcelona at season’s end was actually made last month, according to Marca, and on Feb. 27 the Spanish daily was already linking the three-time Champions League winner to New York City’s two Major League Soccer clubs.
That same day NBC Sports, via Diario Gol, revealed New York City FC was the most likely option, with the 2015 expansion side even willing to pay a prospective transfer fee for the Spain international.
The cancellation of Puyol’s contract means no such fee will be required, but the timing of this transaction could now be a major problem.
NYCFC won’t begin play until March 2015, and the eight-month layoff is likely longer than Puyol has in mind for his post-season rest.
5. Los Angeles Galaxy
Los Angeles Galaxy have always pursued big-name players to fill their Designated Player spots.
(MLS clubs are permitted three DPs, whose salaries are exempt from the salary cap.)
At present all three are filled—by Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez—but by mid-summer there could be an opening, particularly if the Galaxy and MLS cash in on Gonzalez.
The defender agreed a multi-year extension to his contract last August, as per the Los Angeles Times, but he has previously expressed his desire to move abroad, at one point telling the Times he wanted to “make the trip to Europe.”
His exit, or the rather more unlikely transfers of Keane or Donovan, would open up a spot for Puyol, who would surely think hard about a Hollywood switch.
4. Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund have been riddled by injuries in the centre of defense this season, and the situation will only get more complicated if Mats Hummels leaves the club in the summer.
Interestingly, Barcelona are among the Germany international’s most serious admirers, with Bild reporting back in October, as relayed by the Mirror, that the Catalans were prepared to spend €35 million to acquire the 25-year-old.
Puyol’s cancelled contract means a swap deal won’t be necessary, but Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp could certainly do with some defensive depth, even if he directly replaces Hummels with a younger defender.
That Puyol has previously starred in Barcelona’s high-pressing, possession-based system would only serve him well at the Bundesliga side as there wouldn’t be the steep, stylistic transition he would go through elsewhere.
3. AS Monaco
It would hardly be surprising if AS Monaco made a pitch to Puyol over the next few weeks and months.
Presently second in Ligue 1, the principality side will almost certainly be able to offer Champions League football next season, and their willingness to spend means Puyol’s contract demands won’t be a problem.
What Monaco crave is experience, and Puyol could provide that in spades, particularly during the rigours of a European campaign.
He also wouldn’t be expected to play week in, week out—something that would only add to the package.
That Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has already been linked with a move to Monaco, as per ESPN FC, could conceivably make the destination even more appealing.
2. New York Red Bulls
New York Red Bulls are one of the more realistic landing spots for Puyol.
That New York has an available DP spot makes a prospective transaction even more doable, and then there’s the fact that manager Mike Petke could use an upgrade in the centre of defense.
An agreement with the Red Bulls would seem to check all the boxes.
1. AC Milan
If Puyol ends up in New York, it will not have been for lack of trying to orchestrate a move to AC Milan.
The 35-year-old is an outspoken admirer of the Rossoneri, and just over 12 months ago he told reporters the San Siro outfit was his “favourite team,” as per Inside Spanish Football.
He added: “I hope Milan win all their matches, except when they play against Barca.”
Puyol also penned an emotional letter to Paolo Maldini when the Milan icon retired from football in 2009.
“Now, you retire from football and I’m sad because my dream is not going to come true,” he wrote, as revealed by Inside Spanish Football. “I wish we could have played on the same team.”
Puyol’s salary might be a bit rich for the Serie A side, although he would conceivably take a pay cut to wear the red and black shirt.