Puyol: I will not change my mind about Barcelona exit

The defender has again made it clear he will leave the Blaugrana this summer and has dismissed recent criticism of Lionel Messi
Carles Puyol has not changed his mind about opting to leave Barcelona at the end of the season despite the club's transfer ban.

The veteran defender, 36, recently announced he will leave Camp Nou this summer, but a number of reports suggested he could stay on for an additional season now that Barcelona will not be allowed to sign a replacement following Fifa's decision to hand the Catalans a transfer ban for the next two windows.

Nevertheless, Puyol feels he is no longer at the required level to help Barcelona and has stressed that staying put is not an option.

"I have not changed my mind about leaving at the end of the season," Puyol stated at a press conference.

"I would stay if I could help, but it is difficult to get back to my best. I could not accept another year like this one.

"I cannot say anything else about my future because I have not made a decision yet. We will see how the season ends."

The centre-back then went on to defend Lionel Messi against recent criticism as he feels there is no reason to doubt the Argentina international.

"If there's one player who should not be doubted, it's Messi. He has given us so much and we can never rule him out.

"He always gives his all. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't. We have gotten accustomed to his incredibly high level, so when he doesn't score people start questioning him.

"But we are all very grateful to him for what he has done for the team. We are a team and we cannot blame everything on one player."