Carles Puyol is closing in on the end of his storied 15-year career at FC Barcelona, but could a change of scenery to New York City be in the cards for his future?
Spanish outlet Diario Gol reported this week that Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano has expressed interest in bringing the longtime Barça captain to New York City FC, the MLS expansion side owned in part by Manchester City which is set to debut in 2015.
The report indicates that Puyol could be in line for a multimillion-dollar contract offer, making him a Designated Player in the team’s first year of existence.
Puyol, who will turn 36 years old in April, has played his entire career with Barcelona but has struggled with injuries and form this season. He’s appeared in just 11 matches across all competitions this year, and European outlets have pounced on rumors that Barça are looking to find his replacement.
"I hope and wish that this isn't Puyol's last season with the team," Barça midfielder Andrés Iniesta told reporters this week. "I would like to have him in the dressing room for a very long time."
Puyol signed a contract extension with Barcelona in January that will keep him at the club through June 2016, meaning that NYCFC might have to pay a transfer fee to bring him to MLS unless the defending Spanish champions rescind his contract.
Puyol made his debut for the Spanish national team in 2000 and has earned 100 caps since then, serving as a defensive anchor for the team's 2010 World Cup title. Because of injures and age, however, he’s unlikely to play a large part in the nation's hopes this year in Brazil. He has not featured for La Furia Roja since a friendly against Uruguay in February 2013.
Soriano spent five years as an executive with Barcelona before eventually taking the reins at Manchester City in September 2012, and Man. City’s sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, also played for Barcelona during the 1990s.