Liverpool have agreed to sell striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona for a fee thought to be about £75m.
The Uruguayan, 27, who is serving a four-month ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup, will sign a five-year deal.
Suarez, who scored 31 league goals last season, will travel to the Spanish club next week for a medical.
“Luis is a very special talent and I thank him for the role he has played,” said Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers.
Suarez says he and his family will “always be Liverpool supporters”
Suarez – last season’s Premier League top scorer and winner of the PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year awards – signed for Liverpool from Ajax in 2011 for £22.7m, and had four years left on his contract.
“I hope you can all understand why I have made this decision,” said Suarez, who is banned from “all football-related activity” as he serves his third suspension for biting an opponent.
“This club did all they could to get me to stay, but playing and living in Spain, where my wife’s family live, is a lifelong dream and ambition. I believe now the timing is right.”
When he is eventually eligible to play again, Barcelona will have a formidable front line including Argentine Lionel Messi and Brazilian Neymar, as the club rebuilds under new coach Luis Enrique after its first season without a major trophy in six years.
If the transfer fee is confirmed at £75m, it will be the third biggest in football history after Gareth Bale (£86m Tottenham to Real Madrid, 2013) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£80m Manchester United to Real Madrid, 2009)
The move to Barcelona takes Suarez closer to his wife Sofia’s family
“It is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life and new challenges in Spain,” he said.
“Both me and my family have fallen in love with this club (Liverpool) and with the city, but most of all I have fallen in love with the incredible fans.
“You have always supported me and we, as a family, will never forget it. We will always be Liverpool supporters.”
Barcelona face a logistical conundrum regarding Suarez’s presentation as their player – usually done at the Nou Camp which is opened up to fans – as his worldwide suspension extends to entering any football ground.