Barcelona legend Xavi has announced that he will retire from professional football at the end of this season.
The central midfielder currently plies his trade in Qatar with Al Sadd, who he joined in 2015 after leaving La Liga.
However, at 39 years of age, the Spaniard feels the time is right to hang up his boots and pursue a coaching career.
“This is my last season as a player, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me as a coach,” Xavi said.
“My philosophy as a coach reflects the style we developed for many years under the influence of Johan Cruyff and La Masia, and that has its greatest exponent in the way of playing football in Barcelona.
“I love seeing the teams take the initiative on the field, play attacking football and return to the essence of what we all loved since our childhood days: football possession.”
Xavi has made 16 appearances in all competitions for Al Sadd this season, scoring five goals and setting up six more despite his advanced years.
The pass-master is Barcelona’s all-time record appearance-holder in La Liga with 505, as well as in all competitions with 769.
The former club captain managed 85 goals and 182 assists in that time while amassing an impressive array of silverware. He has won eight league titles, four Champions Leagues and three Copas del Rey, as well as two Club World Cups.
At international level, Xavi was a key component of Spain’s World Cup triumph in 2010, also winning the European Championships either side of the showpiece tournament in South Africa.
Since moving to Qatar, the midfield maestro has lifted the Qatari Cup in 2017, making 84 appearances in all competitions across four seasons and taking on the role of skipper.
Alongside his playing duties, Xavi has been taking his coaching qualifications and there is plenty of excitement surrounding the future coaching career of one of the game’s most intelligent and decorated central midfielders, and he has been linked with a role at former club Barcelona on more than one occasion.