Laudrup will leave Spain at end of season

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Michael Laudrup said yesterday that he will leave Spain when his contract with Real Madrid expires at the end of this season. The 31-year- old Danish midfielder said he was considering playing in the United States or Japan next season.

Laudrup, who will have spent seven years in Spain, joined Real Madrid from Barcelona last season and helped his new club to the championship. However, they have struggled in the league this season and were knocked out of the European Cup by Juventus.

Laudrup said: "I would have liked to retire on winning a European Cup, but I'm not leaving Spain disappointed. I have had many more successes than failures. I would like to have retired at the top like Frank Rijkaard, but it was not to be and I'll go fighting to get the team into the Uefa Cup. Real Madrid will be my last big team."

Laudrup said the time had come to slacken the pace and spend more time with his family, but he did not rule out playing for Denmark again. "It depends what the new coach has in mind, but anyway it would only be three or four games a year. We'll see," he said.