AFTER 13 years in the North-East, Julio Arca is to bid farewell to Middlesbrough, but the popular Argentine insists his career is not over and hinted that he could be back playing in England next season.

Arca has had his contract at the Riverside terminated by mutual consent after seven years at the club.

His final appearance for the Teessiders came last September when he suffered a toe injury in a Capital One Cup tie, but he remained on Teesside for his rehabilitation.

Arca, who was Boro's longest serving player, takes in his final game at the Riverside today before returning to Argentina, where he will continue to receive treatment for his injury.

The 32-year-old will end 13 years in the region having spent six years at Sunderland prior to joining Boro and in an exclusive interview with The Northern Echo, Arca revealed he doesn't plan to hang his boots up just yet.

"The idea is to carry on playing," he said. "The idea is to go back home in the summer over the next couple of weeks and see if I can get this problem sorted.

"It might take three or four months to fix, but if I can get sorted the idea is to come back to England and try to look for a club here and I'll see if I can carry on playing for two or three years.

"If it doesn't happen here then I might have to go abroad somewhere else, but the idea is to come back. I have my house and everything and my family is here. I don't know if it will be in the North-East, but I'll come back and see what happens.

"If I can't come back playing, I haven't prepared for that yet. It hasn't crossed my mind. I might have to think of something else but the idea is to come back playing in England."

Arca made a return to training last month, but he suffered a setback in his recovery, and so never got the chance to play at the Riverside one last time.

He said: "It was saying on the news that I was going back home for good, but a lot of people don't know what it's like to be here. My home is in Argentina, but as I say, I go there for a couple of months and I begin to miss it here, so I will be in and out for the next six months. A lot will depend on my injury. It might take longer to find a club, but I will keep trying."

The versatile midfielder has tasted the good and the bad in his time on Teesside and admitted he is sad to be leaving.

He said: "It's been seven seasons. There's been ups and downs like any player could have, but in general it's been good. It's sad to be leaving but these things happen in football and sometimes you have to move on."