Xavi announces Barcelona exit

The veteran midfielder, 35, has called time on his 24 years at Camp Nou and revealed he will link up with Al Sadd following the completion of 2014-15

Barcelona legend Xavi has announced his intention to leave the club at the end of the season to join Qatari club Al Sadd.

The midfielder has been with the Catalans for 24 years, since joining La Masia as an 11-year-old, and has made over 750 appearances for the first team during that time – more than any other player in the club’s history.

Although he has featured 41 times so far for Barca in their La Liga-winning campaign, he has been used as a substitute more often than a starter under Luis Enrique.

“I am announcing my departure from the club this season,” Xavi told reporters at a press conference on Thursday. “This decision is final and difficult.

“The club offered me a renewal – a very good one – but I had already made my decision. I think it’s time to leave Camp Nou now.

“I’ll continue playing at Al Sadd, which is an exciting prospect. I have signed a deal for two seasons, but there’s an option for a third.

“Failure to retire at Barca is not a blot on my career – I want to keep playing but I know I have to play at a lower level. I’ll also be able to develop myself as a coach and sporting director in Qatar.”

Xavi was going to leave Barca for Al Sadd a year ago, but the 35-year-old is overwhelmingly happy he delayed his departure until 2015 and pointed at treble glory as being a potentially perfect ending.

“I was going to leave last summer, but I’m happy I stayed another season,” he added. “I’ve felt useful though it’s strange not be part of the XI all of the time.

“I am very content, I couldn’t have asked for a better career than the one I have had.
“I must thank the incredible treatment from fans and I look forward to saying goodbye to them this weekend.

“This Barca team has a great chance at completing a treble. We can make history. One couldn’t have written a better way to bow out, it’s like it was made for me.”

In addition to Saturday’s Liga game at home to Deportivo La Coruna, Barca have two finals to look forward to in the next couple of weeks.

First up is a Copa del Rey showpiece against Athletic Bilbao before they take on Juventus – who are also chasing a treble – in Berlin’s Champions League finale.