Jesús Navas agrees lifetime Sevilla deal after exit U-turn

Sevilla captain Jesús Navas has signed a lifetime contract with the club, the LaLiga side said on Saturday, just days after the player announced that he would be leaving at the end of the season.

Navas, 38, is Sevilla’s record appearance holder, having played for the club for 17 seasons over two different spells, winning eight trophies.

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The right-back published an open letter on Friday saying he’d taken the “painful” decision to leave his boyhood club, having received “not one phone call” offering him a new contract, with his deal set to expire this summer.

“I’ve always been told that I could stay here as long as I wanted, but nobody has dispelled my doubts as to whether that call confirming that I’m staying would come at the end of the season,” Navas said. “People have said that I’ve leaving for a better offer, but I don’t have a team [for next season] yet because I want to focus on my country [at the Euros].”

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido Carrasco held a news conference on Saturday to contest that version of events, blaming a “misunderstanding.”

Del Nido said he “loved, respected and admired” Navas, calling him “the club’s greatest legend.”

“I don’t want to start any conflict with him, either publicly or privately,” Del Nido said. “But neither can I let the history books read that Jesus won’t stay because Sevilla don’t want him to. It has all been a misunderstanding, for which I take responsibility, because I know that Jesus is hurting.”

Del Nido insisted that he had discussed future plans with the player on more than one occasion, saying he was in a “state of shock” after being told of Navas’ decision on Thursday.

“If we are able to sit down with [Navas] and talk things through, hopefully we can amend the situation,” Del Nido said. “I would like to offer him a lifetime contract, so that he can continue to play here for as long as he wants.”

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Later on Saturday, Sevilla said that Navas had “signed a lifetime contract.”

“The player and the president have come to an agreement for him to extend his playing contract until 31 December 2024, before taking on a role inside the club,” a statement said.

“I didn’t doubt for a second about saying yes to the president’s proposal,” Navas said, in a social media post. “I want to keep playing for Sevilla… My desire is to keep playing until December, in a transition to help the team.”

“One more thing, in these last months as a professional, I won’t receive pay. The salary agreed with the president will go to charity.”

Navas made his debut for Sevilla in 2003 and starred for a decade before joining Manchester City. He returned to his hometown club in 2017 after four years in the Premier League, going on to become club captain and having the training ground’s stadium named after him.

He was part of the Spain squad that won the 2010 World Cup, and the 2012 European Championships.