Thursday May 21st, 2015

Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez announced Thursday that he will leave at the end of the season to join Qatari club Al Sadd, ending a 24-year association with the Catalonian club.

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​Xavi said he will play for Al Sadd for the next two seasons, with an option for a third season. 

"I'd like to announce that I'm leaving Barca after this season," Xavi said. "The decision is definitive yet difficult. I've been at the club for almost 25 years but this is the time for me to leave. I have a thrilling project in Qatar -- I will play for Al Sadd the next two seasons.”

Xavi, 35, has played 764 matches for Barcelona, which hosts Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on May 30 before playing Juventus in the Champions League final on June 6 in Berlin. Barcelona also recently clinched the La Liga title for this season. 

"Now I am not playing as many minutes as I would like, I am not a starter like before. It is time," Hernandez said. "I still feel like I can play."

He retired from international competition last season following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Xavi helped Spain win the 2010 World Cup and 2008 and 2012 European Championships. 

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Xavi, who finished third in the voting for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Ballon d'Or, has also been a part of three Champions League, eight La Liga, two Copa del Rey, and six Spanish Super Cup titles.

"It's a special end to my career at Barca," he said. "Having won La Liga, I'm really looking forward to lifting the Copa del Rey. I'm very happy with how things have gone and I leave having given everything."

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