Thiago Alcantara has bid an emotional farewell to Bayern Munich, with the Spain international saying the decision to leave for Liverpool has been “the most difficult of my sports career”.
Having entered the final 12 months of his contract at the Allianz Arena, a big career call was always going to have to be made this summer.
Bayern had been hoping that the former Barcelona star could be persuaded to stay put, with a remarkable treble triumph in 2019-20 seeing them savour Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League successes.
Those efforts have, however, proved to be the perfect departing gifts for Thiago.
The 29-year-old is all set to link up with Premier League title holders Liverpool, with Goal confirming that the Reds have a £20 million ($26m) agreement in place to take the classy playmaker to England.
Thiago will be leaving Germany with many happy memories, but he believes the time has come for him to seek out “new challenges”.
He posted in a message to Bayern and their supporters on social media: “Yes, I have made the most difficult decision of my sports career.
“I will close this chapter in this wonderful club where I have grown as a player for seven years.
“Triumphs, joy and also hard times. But what I am most proud of is that I arrived in Munich as a young man full of dreams and now I will leave completely fulfilled with a club, a history and a culture.
“Here I learned to love a tradition that I am now saying goodbye to but which I will never forget: Mia San Mia.
“I have experienced fantastic moments: In this city, in Sabener Strasse and in our beloved Allianz Arena. With my Bavarian family, who treated me so well and loved me every second.
“My decision is purely of a sporting nature. As a soccer player, I want new challenges to develop myself further.
“Bavaria will always be my home. Thank you, FC Bayern.”
Robert Lewandowski paid his tribute to Thiago, saying on Twitter: "It was a pleasure to play with such a magician like you."
Across his seven years in Germany, Thiago took in 235 appearances for Bayern and registered 35 goals.
He claimed 16 trophies in total, including seven Bundesliga titles, the Champions League and Club World Cup.
A new chapter is now set to be opened on Merseyside, with Liverpool having won the race for a much sought-after signature at the end of a protracted transfer saga.