Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez has confirmed he will join Qatari side Al-Sadd this summer, ending his 24-year run with the Catalan giants.
The Spanish midfielder is the longest serving and most decorated Barca player, having joined the club at the age of 11. A World Cup winner with Spain, the 35-year-old has made over 500 appearances for the Blaugrana, clinching 23 trophies, including three Champions League and eight Primera Division titles.
“It’s a definite decision but a difficult one,” said Xavi. “I’ve been at the club for almost 25 years but this is the time for me to leave. My hope and aim is for one day to return to work for Barca.”
Xavi was under contract with Barca for another season but had already pondered leaving the club. A product of the youth academy, Xavi broke into the first team in 1998 and was crucial in establishing Barca’s possession-based style which proved so successful.
Xavi retired from Spanish duty last summer after earning 133 caps and winning the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.
Xavi shed some tears after last weekend’s 1-0 triumph at Atletico Madrid that gave Barca a 27th league crown. Barca host Deportivo La Coruna in their last La Liga game tomorrow. Xavi will lift the Primera Division trophy tomorrow. The trophy is normally presented at the start of the new season but the club asked the league to make a change in tribute to Xavi.
Luis Enrique’s side take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on May 30 at the Nou Camp before their Champions League showdown with Juventus in Berlin on June 6.
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