Barcelona midfielder Xavi has confirmed he will leave the club at the end of the season to join Qatari side Al Sadd on an initial two-year deal.
The diminutive playmaker has played an integral role at Camp Nou for over a decade since making his debut in 1998, featuring in over 700 matches and lifting 23 trophies with the Catalan giants.
Xavi’s performances defined a generation at Barca – his calm, controlled play in the middle of the pitch crucial as the club enjoyed a period of great success under Pep Guardiola.
Now 35, Xavi’s role has become that of a squad player rather than a regular first-team starter and he has opted to end his association with Barca on a high after claiming an eighth Liga title last weekend.
In his final weeks as a Barcelona player, Xavi has the chance to lift his second domestic and European treble.
Barca take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final at the end of May before meeting Juventus in the final of the UEFA Champions League on June 6.
Speaking at a press conference, Xavi said: “I’d like to confirm that I will leave Barcelona at the end of the season. I think this is the time to leave, that is what I feel, this is time to leave, I am not playing as many minutes and feel it is time for a change of air.
“It has been a very difficult decision. I was offered another option (until 2018) but by then I had already made my mind up, I feel I need a change.
“Today I officially told the squad and manager, but I think that they knew. For several months I’ve had this idea in my head, the offer of a contract [from Barca] made me rethink but this is the time to go.
“I will go to Qatar with Al Sadd, I have signed a contract for two years, it’s an important project.
“The script could not have been better, we’ve won the league, I’m excited to lift the trophy for the last time, I’m going to enjoy every moment of it.
“My objective is to come back here [to Barcelona] and work one day, that is my ultimate aim as it is my home, whether it is a manager or sporting director we’ll see.”