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Barcelona's longest-serving and most decorated player is off to Qatar

35-year-old Xavi Hernandez is set to join Al Sadd in the summer.

Xavi joined Barcelona as a 10-year-old.
Xavi joined Barcelona as a 10-year-old.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

BARCELONA LEGEND XAVI Hernandez will leave the Catalan club he has served since boyhood for Qatari side Al Sadd at the end of this season, his father has said.

“The moment has come for Xavi to say goodbye,” the 35-year-old midfielder’s father Joaquin Hernandez told radio Cope.

He said the contract with Al Sadd would allow Xavi, presently the team captain, to train as a coach as well as playing.

“He is lucky to have received a really impressive offer that allows him to continue playing football, train as a future coach and also rest a little.”

Xavi is Barcelona’s most decorated player of all time and one of the heroes of Spain’s Euro and World Cup-winning squads.

In March he met with managers of Al Sadd, which announced on social media that he had signed with the club but the Qatari side then said the deal had not yet been sealed.

Xavi will personally announce the move during a press conference on Thursday, Spanish media reported.

His contract with the Spanish league champions runs until next year but the club had already made it clear that it would not stand in the way of his departure.

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Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group D - Barcelona v Brondby Playing for Barca back in 1998. Source: EMPICS Sport

“Xavi has earned the right to decide his future,” Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said in March when asked about the reports that the iconic playmaker had agreed to a move to Qatar.

The player will be following in the footsteps of Real Madrid legend Raul who played 39 games for Al Sadd, one of Qatar’s top clubs, between 2012 and 2014, before joining the New York Cosmos in October 2014.

Barcelona sealed the league title on Sunday with a 1-0 win away over 2014 champions Atletico Madrid.

Xavi was filmed weeping with joy after that win. It is his eighth title in the league and his 23rd overall with Barcelona, making him the player with most medals in the club’s history.

- © AFP 2015

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