Retirement is nigh for Xabi Alonso.
With his 35th birthday just around the corner, the Spaniard is acutely aware his days at the top are numbered and that he must soon consider hanging up his boots.
And what a shame that will be. For 17 years now, ever since making his professional debut in 1999 for Real Sociedad B, Alonso has graced professional football with his touch, style and incredible range of passing.
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Indeed, for Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, he's built a reputation for spraying inch-perfect passes left, right and centre with ease whilst marshalling the back four.
There really are few better central midfielders.
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But the writing is on the wall. With competition rife at the Allianz Arena, it's only a matter of time before he's demoted as a starter and forced to settle for a place on the bench.
Alonso realises that fact but has revealed how he plans to stay at Bayern and retire there, despite an interest in playing in Serie A.
Speaking to Spanish outlet Marca, per Goal, he said: "I think [Bayern will be my last club]. While my mind and body can bear it, I want to keep playing at the elite level.
"And that will be with Bayern - I do not think there is another step for me in senior football. I would go to Italy, but there is not time to give myself there."
The former Spain international's contract in Bavaria expires at the end of the season and because of that fact, he's yet to firmly decide his future.
"I have not decided," he added. "As the months pass, I will go slowly taking one direction or another.
"I'll see what I feel or whether the club sit down with me to discuss continuing or taking another path. I do not know what will happen. Time will tell.
"I do not burden myself with that. I have the freedom to decide and I do not set deadlines."
Bayern have got off to the perfect start in the new Bundesliga season, winning five from five and recording +14 goal difference.
The Bavarians have done so under Carlo Ancelotti, having lost former manager Pep Guardiola to Manchester City over the summer.
And according to Alonso, his compatriot has made an "amazing" start to his first term in the Premier League.
"Pep has a natural talent to understand football and to then transform that understanding on to his players," he added.
"He likes to have the ball and for his players to show courage and you can just feel this.
"What he has done at Manchester City over the past two months is amazing.
"The desire his players have to prove themselves to the fans and the coach is the result of Pep's work. He is very demanding and methodical.”
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