Captain Thomas Linke will leave FC Salzburg at the end of the season after the new Austrian champions decided against offering the German defender a new contract.
The 37-year-old has played in all but six of Salzburg's 31 league games as Giovanni Trapattoni's side wrapped up the title with five games to spare. But despite his influence and experience, Salzburg plan to give youth a chance as they look to move forward. General Manager Oliver Kreuzer said: "We all now about Thomas Linke's merits here at FC Salzburg and are very grateful for his services. That's why this decision has been extremely difficult to make for us. However, the FC Salzburg team is going to change in the future and we want to bring in younger players."
Linke, who arrived from FC Bayern München in summer 2005, said: "I have to accept the club's decision, even though I would have liked to play another year. I will think about my footballing future in the coming days." The versatile defender won the UEFA Champions League and five Bundesliga titles with Bayern and the UEFA Cup with FC Schalke 04. Capped 43 times, he was part of the Germany squad which finished runners-up in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
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