Puyol agrees contract extension

MADRID - Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has agreed a contract extension until 2013, the European champions said on their website on Friday.

The 31-year-old Spanish international, whose current deal was due to expire next June, will sign the new agreement in the coming days, the club said.

"Carles has been here for many years and is the heart and soul of the dressing room. For this reason, it is fantastic news," team mate Xavi told a news conference.

Puyol joined the club's youth system in 1995 and made his first team debut on Oct. 2 1999 against Real Valladolid.

The shaggy-haired defender has gone on to make 451 official appearances for Barca, the fourth highest for the club, helping them to win three La Liga titles, two European Cups and a King's Cup.

Barca, top of La Liga on 19 points from seven matches, are at home to Real Zaragoza on Sunday. AC Milan, Arsenal and Manchester City have been linked with the Spaniard in recent weeks. NEWS: Puyol wanted by Premier League pair NEWS: Milan mulling Puyol move