Leaving City is a 'passionate yet rational' decision says Kompany
Vincent Kompany informed his Manchester City team-mates that he was leaving the club amid emotional scenes in the Wembley dressing room after their FA Cup triumph over Watford secured an unprecedented domestic treble.
It was announced yesterday that Kompany will take over as player-manager at Anderlecht - the Belgian club where he began his career - on a three-year contract this summer as one of the greatest defenders of his generation prepares to make his first foray into management.
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City manager Pep Guardiola fought to keep Kompany for another season but, after careful deliberation, the 33-year-old concluded the offer of a player-manager role with Anderlecht was too good to turn down on several levels and felt it was the moment to bring an end to his glorious tenure at the Manchester club, with whom he won 10 trophies in 11 years.
Kompany said the impending move to Anderlecht is "the most passionate yet rational decision I've ever made", but spoke in an emotional open letter on Facebook about what City had come to mean to him after 360 appearances and four league titles.
"As overwhelming as it is, the time has come for me to go - and what a season to bow out," he said. "Sheikh Mansour [the City owner] changed my life and that of all the City fans around the world - for that I am forever grateful. A blue nation has arisen and challenged the -established order of things. I find that awesome."
Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the City chairman, said Kompany "defines the essence of the club" and, for a decade, had been "the lifeblood, the soul and the beating heart of a supremely talented squad".
Anderlecht are believed to have known of Kompany's intentions last week in the aftermath of City's title triumph at Brighton, but the first his City team-mates heard of the news was in an emotional address in the dressing room following Saturday's 6-0 thrashing of Watford at Wembley.
Spontaneous applause broke out after Kompany revealed his decision and he was embraced by team-mates, coaches and staff amid tearful scenes before they posed for pictures with the trophy.
There were longer, more personal conversations with team-mates at the Hilton London Wembley hotel before a jubilant squad continued their celebrations on the flight back to Manchester.
City's players were attending a dinner arranged by the wives and partners yesterday.
Kompany is likely to be a prominent presence in City's trophy parade in Manchester today, which will conclude with a party for the players and staff at Manchester Cathedral.
Given his injury troubles in recent seasons, City had offered Kompany another heavily incentivised contract for next season. Yet the combination of being able to manage his own playing time while taking his first steps into management at Anderlecht, the club he had played for from six years old before his move to Hamburg at 20, was ultimately too much of a lure.
Kompany's impending exit will strengthen Guardiola's desire to sign a centre-half - Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax and Leicester's Harry Maguire have both been linked.
City are also ready to trigger the £61.3m release clause in the contract of Atletico Madrid and Spain midfielder Rodri.
Kompany revealed that he had visited Anderlecht last year on an informal basis "just to say hello" to Marc Coucke, the owner, and Michael Verschueren, sports director, both of whom sought his opinion about the club's difficulties. "I offered my help, no strings attached, should they need it," Kompany said.
Following the appointment of Frank Arnesen as Anderlecht's technical director, Kompany was involved in helping to organise "some technical sessions on how to build a strong playing identity based on attractive, attacking football", which eventually led in the past few months to the club offering him the player-manager role.
"Michael and Frank explained to me how they saw it working in practice," Kompany said yesterday. "They had thought it through. Mr Coucke pledged full support: time, budget, framework, staff, facilities... I was left not only impressed, but also intrigued by this sign of confidence in me. It got me thinking."
Kompany insisted this was "no goodbye - it's a see you later" and it seems likely the Belgian will return to City in the future. More immediately, his testimonial will take place on September 11, with the funds raised going to his Tackle4MCR charity, which aims to alleviate homelessness in Manchester. (© Daily Telegraph)