After 15 years and 542 matches, midfielder Guti is moving on from Real Madrid, it was announced today. The 33-year-old, who confirmed he had an offer from Istanbul club Besiktas, leaves the team he joined as a nine-year-old, making his senior team debut in December 1995.
"I am leaving with the knowledge that the Real Madrid family loves me and that's very important," said Guti.
"It wasn't an easy decision. But I have a good offer from Besiktas, an interesting one, now we'll see."
Guti had one year left on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu but looked unlikely to figure into new coach José Mourinho's plans, having been asked to stay away from the beginning of training while he looked for another club. That came on the back of a season where Guti managed to play in 26 league matches despite being excluded from the team for a long, mid-season stretch following reported conflict with then-coach Manuel Pellegrini.
With a given name of José María Gutíerrez Hernández, the Madrid-born Guti was a part of fifteen major titles while at Real Madrid: five Spanish Primera Divisions; four Spanish Supercopas; three UEFA Champions Leagues; two Intercontinental Cups; one UEFA Super Cup. During that time, Guti scored 86 goals, 46 of which came in league.
Guti joined Real Madrid's youth academy at nine years old and made his full debut at 19. Today's announcement ends a relationship between club and player that lasted 25 years. His 15 seasons in the senior team was a tenure second in length to only Raul's, with the captain also set to leave Real Madrid this summer.
In his final statements as a Real Madrid player, Guti acknowledged the conflicts of his final years at the Santiago Bernabeu:
"They're a lot of years and many (were) complicated but in the end I managed to achieve the most important things," added Guti. "So many years here... an unforgettable stage (of my life)."
Guti is now considering an offer to move to Istanbul and join his former coach Bernd Schuster at Besiktas. Regardless of where he ends up, Guti hopes to rejoin Real Madrid at some point, once his career is over:
"I don't know where I will end up playing, but I would like to have the possibility of carrying on at Real Madrid when my career as a footballer has ended."