Sergio Aguero has confirmed that he wants to leave Atletico Madrid.
The Argentine striker is set to become one of the most in-demand players in Europe after confirming his desire to quit the Vicente Calderon.
Reports have long linked Aguero with a move away from the club, but in recent weeks it was claimed he was growing increasingly frustrated with their lack of success.
Now Aguero has issued a statement confirming he wants to leave, which will now trigger a transfer battle with Chelsea and Atletico's arch-rivals Real Madrid believed to be leading the race.
"I said long ago that when I wanted to go, I would say so publicly. And the time has come," the statement said.
"So I keep to my word and here I am. I find it hard to leave Atletico. It hurts and saddens me.
"I've thought long and hard and I am convinced that I must be true to myself. I do not think I put a ceiling on the ability to keep learning, to keep growing.
"After five intense years, this stage for me personally is over and I have to give way to a new one.
"I'm about to turn 23 and I have everything before me. Suffice it to say that this is not an economic issue but strictly a sporting one.
"So I want to clearly express my appreciation to the club for the efforts they have made for giving me a salary that equates with the largest clubs in the world.''
Aguero has scored over 100 goals for Atletico since joining from Independiente in 2006 and earlier this season signed a new three-year contact.
But Aguero admits that he signed the new deal knowing he had the option to leave this summer.
"I want to say also that this decision has been maturing for some time," he added.
"The issue was discussed and agreed with Atletico last year when I was renewing my contract.
"I wanted to sign as a way to give back to the club for all the support they have given me. Had I not done so, they might not have received any more for my transfer. I received then a promise that the club would not stand in my way if I wanted to leave this summer.
"Therefore, in line with that commitment and my decision, I have asked them to listen to any offers they receive for me from different clubs."