Al Sadd, Atletico Madrid, Clubs, Gabi, Qatar, Story

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Antoine Griezmann has finally announced his decision to stay at Atletico Madrid, and the FC panel can’t quite believe how he went about it.

Gabi Fernandez has said new Al-Sadd teammate Xavi Hernandez convinced him to leave Atletico Madrid and play in Qatar.

Madrid-born Gabi played 413 games for Atletico in two different spells, winning six trophies including the La Liga title and two Europa Leagues.

He has agreed a two-year contract with Al-Sadd with an option for a further 12 months, with the deal reportedly worth a total of €19 million.

Speaking to the Al-Sadd website, the 34-year-old said he was looking forward to winning more trophies.

“I took the decision to play in Qatar after deep thought, especially as I spent many years playing in Spain,” Gabi said. “Xavi was the first person to talk to me about coming to Qatar and Al-Sadd.

“He told me a lot about the project at Al-Sadd and that we would make a great duo in it. We will now work together to ensure that more success comes to the club, by winning titles.”

Gabi also followed Xavi’s example in praising Qatar’s preparations for hosting the 2022 World Cup.

“I have seen the sights of Doha and I also observed the preparations for the 2022 World Cup, including the great facilities at the Khalifa International Stadium,” he said.

“I am convinced that Qatar will host a successful World Cup in 2022.”

Meanwhile, Atletico have brought in holding midfielder Rodri, 22, from Villarreal for around €25m and will sign 18-year-old centre-back Nehuen Perez from Argentinos Juniors, the player said.

“I’ve already signed, it is a dream,” Perez told AS. “I’m very happy I am joining Atletico Madrid.”

Perez is expected to stay with Argentinos Juniors for at least 12 months before moving to Europe. He was in Russia as one of the extra players brought by Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli to experience the World Cup.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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