The Blaugrana club captain announced on Tuesday that he would be departing Camp Nou at the end of the season. We may never see his kind ever again. The Blaugrana club captain announced on Tuesday that he would be departing Camp Nou at the end of the season. We may never see his kind ever again.
Carles Puyol may prove to be the last genuinely world class defender ever to play the game, in the purest sense of the phrase. As uncompromising and committed as they come, he is the principal no-frills footballer, right down to the unkempt appearance, straggly hairstyle and the brutal honesty of his performances.
He doesn’t spread the play to commence attacks. He doesn’t become involved in intricate passing triangles. He doesn’t have to, even in one of the greatest teams of them all. He’s a defender. 'The Wall', as Barcelona fans call him. That’s all he’s ever needed to be, and there have been few better in this discipline.
It’s somewhat ironic that his partner-in-success for Barca’s recent glory years, Gerard Pique, in many ways defines the modern, fully-formed centre-back; graceful, fashionable, completely comfortable in possession. And also, by his own admission, heavily reliant on Puyol to keep him in check.
“I can’t imagine a Barcelona team without him,” Pique admitted in 2011. “He never stops. He wears me out. He tells me to shut up and concentrate.”
Observers of Barca in its current guise can point to two things; Pique doesn’t look to be the same player without Puyol’s relentless guidance and insistence on total concentration. And now that he has officially announced that he is leaving the club, the feeling that Barca may never suitably replace the organisational skills and unshakable respect that he commands.