Bayern Munich have signed Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso after five years at Real Madrid.
The confirmation comes few days after the 32-year-old announced his retirement from international football and shortly after the German champions signed Moroccan midfielder Mehdi Benatia.
Alonso completed transfer formalities on a two-year deal earlier on Friday, after passing his medical on Thursday.
The Spanish World Cup and European Championship-winner then held a farewell press conference at the Bernabeu where he admitted it was not an easy decision to leave the European champions.
He noted: “It’s a sad day on one hand because I’m ending a marvellous spell which I’ve enjoyed a lot. It’s been five great years. Now a new cycle is starting and it’s been the most difficult decision of my life. I’ve thought long and hard about it.
“I wanted to be honest with myself and Real Madrid. You need to know when to say goodbye and this was the best time. I will always be part of the Madrid family.”
Real Madrid have added James Rodriguez and fellow holding midfielder Toni Kroos to it squad for the current season, but the former Liverpool playmaker insists the latter’s arrival had no impact on his move to Munich.
“It’s not because he (Kroos) arrived,” he said. “Madrid have made a great signing. The two of us would have played a lot. This is not a tantrum. This decision has been well thought out and evaluated. It was quite a recent interest (from Bayern), in the last two weeks.”
Alonso joined Real from Liverpool in 2009 and won the 2011/12 La Liga, two Copa Del Rey titles, the Spanish Super Cup and a Champions League winner’s medal in May, albeit missed the Lisbon final after accruing the maximum number of bookings. He was also named in the squad that lifted the Uefa Super Cup.
“After winning ‘la decima’ (Real’s tenth European Cup) I felt that I needed to make a fresh start,” Alonso said.
“The club didn’t want me to go and it was my choice, they didn’t agree but they understood. With ‘la decima’ we removed a huge weight off our shoulders and after that great achievement I needed other things. Going to Bayern was the best option. Bayern are going to fight for all the titles. I can’t wait to start.”
Having started his professional career at Real Sociedad B team, he moved on to spend five years with the senior squad interrupted by a year loan at SD Eibar.
He made 114 appearances for Spain, winning the 2010 World Cup and the Euro in 2008 and 2012.