Raúl confirms he will leave Schalke and Europe at end of season

• 'My future doesn't lie in Europe,' says 34-year-old striker
• 'It will be a less competitive league. The key factor is my family'

Raúl has confirmed that he will leave the Bundesliga club Schalke when his contract expires at the end of the season. The former Spain striker will not move to the Premier League having decided to continue his career in a league outside Europe.

"I have made a decision about my future, and will not stay at Schalke. It has been a really tough decision. I'd like to thank the club, the president and the manager for their patience. This decision is the right one for me," said Raúl. "My future doesn't lie in Europe. I will get together with my agent to discuss the offers we have received. I will then announce where I will go. It will be a less competitive league."

The 34-year-old joined Schalke in the summer of 2010 on a free transfer from Real Madrid and has scored 36 goals in 86 appearances in all competitions, helping Schalke to win the German Cup and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2011. Schalke are currently closing in on Champions League qualification. They are third in the Bundesliga, a point clear of Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Raúl has been linked with moves to the United States and Asia in recent months although his agent, Gines Carvajal, recently quashed rumours of a transfer to a club in Qatar. "My decision is based on several factors. I'm still confident enough to play in a top league, but I can't foresee the future," said Raúl. "The key factor is my family. In the Bundesliga you don't have much time with your family. My choice of which league to join will reflect my desire to spend more time with them.

"I had a wonderful two years here and the club will always be in my heart. I also want to say many thanks to the fans. They are very special, showed me lots of respect and affection. It will be emotionally difficult to say goodbye. Schalke will always be a part of my life."

Schalke will give the striker the chance to play in a farewell match in 2013 against a La Liga club. The Bundesliga club have also said they will retire Raúl's No7 shirt for an indefinite period.

The Spaniard spent 15 years at Real Madrid and holds the record for appearances and goals, scoring 323 times in 741 appearances for the La Liga club.

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