BARCELONA – Fernando Torres announced on Monday that he will leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.
The 34-year-old striker's contract runs out in the summer and he admitted that he would not be renewing it, at a publicity event for the club's sponsors in Madrid.
“This is my last season at the club,” Torres said. “The decision has not been an easy one to take but looking at the circumstances I think it's the best.”
Speaking about his adoring supporters he added: “We have a month and a bit left together and we are going to enjoy it and focus on what is important which is that the fans are behind the team.”
Torres made his debut for Atletico as a 17-year-old in 2001 and he was captaining the side by the time he was 19.
In 2007, he was transferred to Liverpool where he spent four largely happy years.
In 2011 he moved to Chelsea where he was less settled but managed to win a Champions League medal in 2012.
After a brief loan spell at Milan he returned to Atletico Madrid in 2015 with around 45,000 supporters filling the club's old Vicente Calderon stadium just to see him walk out on to the pitch and wave to them in an Atletico shirt once more.
The player added: “It's very hard for me to say goodbye for a second time. It's not been an easy decision to take.”
Torres' second spell at the club has been difficult at times and this season he has scored just two goals in 20 appearances, starting only three games.
He has yet to reveal where he will be playing next season but it seems clear he will not be hanging up his boots.
“I still feel strong enough mentally and physically to play for more years,” he said. “I don't know for how long but I want to keep playing.”
Spanish media have suggested the player could now make a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League.
He has never won a trophy with his beloved Atletico Madrid. But with Diego Simeone's side favourites to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League he may yet have one more opportunity.
And when he finally does stop playing he has no doubts where he will end up.
He added: “From June I can go back to the stands to watch the games. This second spell has been a gift. I have had some magic moments.”