Atlético captain Gabi has announced that he will be leaving the Metropolitano this summer to move to Qatar, where he will join forces with former Barça and Spain midfielder Xavi.
Gabi, 34, has signed a three-year contract with the Qatar Stars League side worth 19 million euros overall. The offer had been on the table for a while and after discussing it with the club's board and Diego Simeone, he elected to make the move. Atlético signed Spain midfielder Rodri, who was in La Roja's preliminary World Cup squad but did not make the final cut, earlier in the summer as a medium term replacement for the veteran captain but the 21-year-old will now be expected to step into his boots with immediate effect.
Diego Godín will take over the armband from Gabi, with Koke being promoted to vice-captain.
Gabi and Simeone - a defensive match made in heaven
Gabi was a hugely important player under Simeone as the Argentinean set about moulding a side in his own combative image and the club had offered him a new deal, increasing the period from one year to two in an attempt to stave off the financial carrot of a move to Qatar. In total he made 417 appearances for Atlético, placing him seventh in the all-time list. Gabi lifted six trophies as club captain - a Liga, a Copa del Rey, two Europa Leagues, a European Super Cup and a Spanish Super Cup.
The defensive midfielder had three spells at Atlético, the first in 2003-04 after which he was loaned to Getafe. He returned for two seasons (2005-07) before moving to Zaragoza before re-joining in 2011, six months before Simeone arrived. He was made captain by the Argentinean for the 2012-13 season and retained the position for the next six years.