Seydou Keita will leave FC Barcelona, the Catalan club announced on its website this afternoon. The versatile Malian midfielder and defender leaves the club after four title-filled years of starring in a utility role for the blaugrana. According to MARCA.com, Keita has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt out if he did not start more than half of Barcelona's games in 2011-2012. He still had two more years on his deal.
While Keita has not officially announced where -- or whether -- he will continue to play, some analysts expect him to land with the Dalian Aerbin of the Chinese Superleague. He was in China with his wife earlier this week, and was photographed at the Yuanyang International Hotel, where, according to Chinese media, he was negotiating with Dalian.
FC Barcelona bid Keita a fond farewell on their website:
Seydou Keita has announced this evening that he won’t be staying at the Club next season.
FC Barcelona thanks Seydou Keita for his services to the Club over the years and wish him professional and personal success in the future.