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May 13, 2006

Barthez to leave Marseille at end of season

PARIS, May 13 (Reuters) - France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez will leave Olympique Marseille at the end of the season, club chairman Pape Diouf was quoted as saying on Saturday.

'Fabien will leave at the end of the season. He confirmed to us he was leaving for personal reasons, which have nothing to do with money, the sport or relationships with others at the club,' Diouf said in the French sports daily L'Equipe.

Diouf indicated that Cedric Carasso, who deputised for Barthez when he was handed a five-month ban last season for spitting at a referee in a friendly against Wydad Casablanca, would take over as first choice. 'It's logical,' he said.

Barthez will play his last game for the Provence side on Saturday at second-placed Girondins Bordeaux, where they have not won since 1977. Fourth-placed Marseille are battling with Lille for the last Champions League qualifying place.

It remains unclear what Barthez, 34, will do next season.

He may call it a day, sign for a foreign club or return to Toulouse, were he started his professional career in 1990 under the guidance of Elie Baup.

'Fabien is like a young brother to me,' the departing St Etienne coach, linked with a move to TFC, told L'Equipe.

Former Manchester United keeper Barthez won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 but is battling with Olympique Lyon's Gregory Coupet to be number one at this year's World Cup in Germany.

He first joined Marseille in 1992, denying AC Milan striker Marco Van Basten twice in his side's 1-0 victory in the 1993 Champions League final in Munich.

Barthez then left for Monaco in 1995 before spending three season at United from 2000 to 2003.

He returned to OM in January 2004.