May 20, 2015 3:46:34 pm
Barcelona midfielder Xavi will announce on Thursday he is leaving the club he joined as an 11-year-old to sign a lucrative three-year deal with Qatari side Al Sadd, his agent told Reuters on Wednesday.
Now 35 and Barca’s appearance record holder and club captain, Xavi is set to follow in the footsteps of former Spain team mate Raul, who played for Al Sadd between 2012-14.
Xavi would also work with Qatar’s Aspire Academy, become an ambassador for the 2022 World Cup to be held in the Gulf state, one of Barca’s main sponsors, and aim to start his coaching qualifications, his agent, Ivan Corretja, said.
He declined to comment on media reports Xavi will earn 10 million euros ($11.1 million) a season.
After joining Barca in 1991, Xavi graduated from the club’s academy to the first team in 1998 but has had limited playing time this season under coach Luis Enrique.
One of the most decorated footballers of all time, he defined Barca and Spain’s spectacularly successful possession-based playing style.
He represented La Roja 133 times, a record for an outfield player, and was a key figure in Spain’s glittering run when they won the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.
With Barca, Xavi has won three Champions League crowns, eight La Liga titles and a host of other trophies.
He is set to receive a rousing send-off at the Nou Camp when Barca, who wrapped up their latest La Liga title last weekend, host Deportivo La Coruna for their final match of the campaign on Saturday.
He could still win another two trophies, with Barca through to the Champions League final to play Juventus on June 6, a week after they play Athletic Bilbao in the King’s Cup final.
Xavi made his debut for Spain in a friendly against the Netherlands in November 2000.
He played in four World Cups and three European Championships and won 100 of his 133 matches for the Iberian nation, controlling play from a central position, regularly providing assists and also scoring the occasional goal.
His last appearance for Spain was a bitter 5-1 reverse to the Netherlands in their opening Group B match at the World Cup finals in Brazil in June.
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