Xavi Hernandez has announced his decision to leave Barcelona for Al Sadd this summer and admitted “it’s time to go”.
The midfielder will join the Qatari club on a two-year contract, with the option of a third, and take up a position in the country’s Aspire Academy after calling time on his 17-year association with La Blaugrana.
“I’d like to announce my departure from Barca this summer,” he began at a Press conference.
“It was a difficult decision to make, but I made it with my wife and family. I think it’s time [for me] to move on.
“I was right to stay another year, [even if] I was given less minutes this season. My body and head told me that I had to go, but my heart not so much.
“I need a change of scenery and there’s a good project going on in Qatar.
“I’ve signed with Al Sadd for two seasons, with the option of another [season]. I’ll work for the Aspire Academy with my brothers and sister.
“It’s an ideal opportunity for me to train [young players] and stay on as an ambassador of the country.”
“Barca valued and respected me until the last moment. I was offered a renewal until 2018, but I’d already made the decision [to join Al Sadd].
“I want to thank the fans for chanting my name in recent weeks and hope [my decision] doesn’t disappoint anyone.
“I intend to come back one day as a coach, sporting director or in another capacity.”
Xavi, 35, won eight La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies with Barca, among other silverware, and could yet lift another Copa del Rey on May 30 and Champions League a week later.
The playmaker also won the World Cup with Spain in 2010 and consecutive European Championships in 2008 and 2012.