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Babić to bid Levekusen adieu

Croatian international midfielder Marko Babić has announced he will leave Bayer 04 Leverkusen when his contract at the Bundesliga club expires in the summer.

Croatian international midfielder Marko Babić has announced he will be leaving Bayer 04 Leverkusen when his contract expires in the summer.

'New challenge'
"After eight years at Bayer 04 I am looking for a new challenge," explained the 26-year-old, who joined the Bundesliga side from NK Osijek in 2000. "I have a lot to thank this club for, since I first became an international while playing here." To date, Babić has scored 13 goals in 144 Bundesliga games with Leverkusen, and made a brief cameo appearance as they lost 2-1 against Real Madrid CF in the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League final.

Spanish link
"I can completely understand his decision," said Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Völler. "He has done a lot for us and for his personal and footballing development a move can only be an advantage." Babić has been linked with Spanish side Real Betis Balompié but has made no firm decisions on his future yet. Leverkusen are sixth in the Bundesliga, and are on target to win a place in Europe next season. With fifth-placed 1. FC Nürnberg playing second-placed VfB Stuttgart in the German Cup final, a top-seven finish will be enough to earn a chance at European competition in 2007/08.