Barcelona boss Martino 'surprised' by Puyol retirement talk

Ahead of their Copa del Rey clash against Cartagena at Camp Nou, the Argentine coach says that he has not discussed the veteran defender's future as reports suggest he may quit
Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino says that suggestions that captain Carles Puyol is considering retirement have come as a surprise to him.

Reports in Spain claim that the defender is contemplating either qutting the game or moving to a lower level of football at the end of the season due to his persistent problems with a knee injury.

When asked about the subject at a press conference, however, Martino declared that he has not held any discussions with the 35-year-old defender over his future.

"It is a surprise to me because Puyol has not spoken to me about that," he told reporters. "All I can say is I have seen him training normally and putting in the required effort during training.

"He has not said anything to me so it would be a little unfair for me to clarify something that has not been discussed."

Despite being 4-1 up against Cartagena heading into the second leg of their Copa del Rey tie at Camp Nou, Martino has named a strong Barca squad. Neymar, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Puyol are all included in a 16-man party for the game, with no space for any of the club's B-team players.

Martino explained: "You always have to play with the greatest level of respect for your opponents.

"My first choice is always to use players within the first team and - to be clear - this decision was taken before the B team lost against Murcia.

"Our last three games have been played at a very high level. We have obviously shown a big improvement and that was our objective after the two defeats."