Rafa Marquez is set to complete a sensational return to Europe, with a statement from Club Leon confirming the 35-year-old will be playing for Hellas Verona in Serie A next season.
“It is the player’s decision to look for new challenges,” read the statement, posted by club president Jesus Martinez on his Twitter account. “We wish him the very best of success in his new club Hellas Verona in the Italian league.”
The statement added that Marquez will always be welcome to return to Leon in the future.
Marquez also sent message thanking the Guanajuato club's fans.
"Many speculated that I came (to Leon) to finish my career and retire, but I had to respond to the trust that the club had placed in me," he wrote in the statement.
"Today I start a new challenge in my career with the responsibility of elevating the name of my country," he continued. "It hasn't been easy to take this decision because there are many mixed feelings, but I've always been a man of challenges, without fear of failure and I couldn't let this opportunity pass at my age."
The center back left Barcelona following World Cup 2010 and endured a difficult spell at New York Red Bulls, before signing for Leon ahead of the Clausura 2013.
He lifted back-to-back Liga MX titles as captain of La Fiera, at a time when many thought his career was coming to an end.
Marquez’s return to form opened the door to a return to the national team when El Tri was struggling in qualifying for Brazil 2014 and he was impressive captaining the side for a fourth consecutive World Cup.
Marquez joined Monaco in Ligue 1 from Club Atlas in 1999, before signing for Barcelona in 2003 and going on to become one of the most successful exports in the history of Mexican soccer.
Verona finished 11th in Serie A last season, just three points behind Milan and six behind Inter.
Veteran Marquez’s transfer comes as Mexico’s younger international players like Raul Jimenez, Alan Pulido and Marco Fabian struggle to force moves to Europe, despite all three saying they'd like to go.