U.S. youth Ben Lederman quitting Barcelona for move to Gent - sources

U.S youth international Ben Lederman has decided to leave Barcelona, with sources close to the player confirming he will sign with Belgian side Gent in the coming days.

Lederman, 18, confirmed that he was cutting his ties with La Liga champions Barca, the club he joined in 2011, in a post on social media on Thursday.

"After seven years, it's time to say goodbye to the best club in the world," he wrote.

"It's been a unique and unforgettable experience at Barcelona. I want to thank all my teammates, coaches, physios, delegates and, above all, La Masia. You have all helped me improve as a footballer and as a person.

"A great spell in my life now comes to an end, but a new one begins -- it's time to keep fighting for my dream."

Lederman first joined Barca's youth academy at age 11, but his time at the club has not always been straightforward.

In 2014, he was one of nine youth players deemed to have been signed illegally by FIFA. As a result, he was told that he could no longer train or play with his Barca teammates.

However, while a number of the youngsters affected headed back to their native countries, Lederman returned to the club in 2016 after acquiring a Polish passport through a relative.

FIFA's regulations allow players aged 16 or over with a valid EU passport freedom of movement across the borders of member countries.

Lederman spent last season playing for the club's Juvenil B team (U18s) but was in and out of the starting lineup.

Therefore, he has made the decision to leave Barca and sign for Gent, where he hopes to play regular football at this important stage of his career.

Last week, he was in Belgium with his family, who have not yet decided if they will uproot from Barcelona and follow him to Gent, to finalise the deal, which will be confirmed soon.