MADRID — Fernando Torres will leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.
The 34-year-old Torres said Monday it “wasn’t an easy decision” to make but he felt it was time to make way for other players at the club.
The striker said he wants to keep playing but needed a change because he wasn’t getting many chances under coach Diego Simeone.
“There is never a good moment to say goodbye,” Torres said. “I’m not having a very prominent role with the club recently. Perhaps it is time to make way for others. I see myself with the ability to continue playing, but here this is not happening. I think this was key when I made the decision.”
Torres did not give any details about his future.
Rumors about Torres’ departure began after Simeone said a couple of months ago he would not go out of his way to try to keep the player after his contract expired at the end of the season. Simeone hinted that it might not be in the club’s best interest to renew Torres’ contract.
Torres said Simeone’s words did not influence his decision.
“There’s not a problem between me and the coach,” Torres said. “This decision is exclusively mine.”
Simeone boosted Atletico’s attack this season by adding Diego Costa and Vitolo, further reducing Torres’ role. Other forwards fighting to start include Kevin Gameiro and Angel Correa.
Torres has seven goals in 34 appearances with Atletico this season. A year ago, he scored 10 times in 45 games and had 12 goals in 44 matches two seasons ago.
Torres is in his second stint with Atletico after thriving with the club from 2001-07. He then played for Liverpool and Chelsea, where he won Champions League and Europa League titles. He returned to Atletico in 2015 after a brief stint with AC Milan.
Although Torres hasn’t had a major role after his return to Atletico, he remains one of the club’s most beloved players. He repeatedly declares his affection for the team he grew up cheering for and joined at 11. He had publicly said he hoped to end his career with Atletico.
Torres said he sees himself back with the club at some point.
“I’m very attached to Atletico so it should happen sooner or later,” he said. “I’m still a football player, but hopefully I will have the opportunity to come back and somehow contribute to the club.”
With the Spanish national team, Torres won one World Cup and two European Championships.
More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni