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Thiago hails Barcelona 'natural leader' Puyol

The Barca stalwart confirmed on Tuesday he will leave the club at the end of the current season - having made his debut in October 1999.

His former team-mate Thiago, who left the Spanish champions in the close-season for Bayern, has great admiration for Puyol's achievements during his time in Catalonia. 

With Puyol yet to confirm his long-term plans, amid rumours of a possible switch to the MLS, Thiago has urged the 35-year-old to remain in the game. 

"I share the same opinion as (Spain international) Jordi (Alba). He is a natural leader," Thiago said on Tuesday.

"(He is) a person that, when you mention him, you think of Barca and all the time he has been with the team.

"For me he has been an example inside and outside the pitch. Everybody knows him and while Puyol remains in the world of football it will be good for us."

Puyol has played 593 games for Barcelona but struggled with injuries in recent years - limiting him to just 12 appearances in all competitions this campaign.