(Reuters) - French left back Patrice Evra is leaving Manchester United after eight-and-a-half seasons to join Serie A champions Juventus, the Italian club said on Monday. Juve confirmed that they had agreed a 1.2 million-pound fee for the 33-year-old, who signed a two-year contract. Juventus will pay a further 300,000 pounds to United if they qualify for the 2015-16 Champions League.
The move means the chance of Champions League football this season for Evra, who would have missed out on Europe's top club competition had he stayed at Old Trafford after their seventh-place finish in the Premier League.
"After a great deal of thought I have decided the time is right for me to leave Manchester United," Evra told United's website (manutd.com).
"It is the biggest decision of my career as this club is, and will always remain, in my heart.
"This club is steeped in history and I feel privileged to have become a part of that ... An immense thank you to Sir Alex Ferguson for making it all possible, for giving me the privilege to be a captain, to be inspired by the legend of Manchester United and to understand that nobody is bigger than the club."
Born in Senegal and raised in France, Evra began his professional career in Italy when he signed for Serie C side Massara as a 17-year-old in 1998.
He moved to Monza in Serie B the following season, returned to France to play for Nice and then Monaco before joining Manchester United in January 2006.
FIVE LEAGUE TITLES
He went on to win five English Premier league titles at Old Trafford, plus the Champions League and Club World Cup in 2008.
Italian clubs are making a habit of signing ageing players from the English Premier League.
AC Milan signed Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, 31, during the January close season and Evra's former United team mate Nemanja Vidic, 32, has also moved to Serie A, joining Inter Milan.
Evra's move has come at an uncertain time for Juventus following last week’s shock resignation of coach Antonio Conte, who won three successive Serie A titles in as many seasons in charge.
Sporting director Giuseppe Marotta said Conte's departure had nothing to do with clashes over transfer policy, after reports that Juventus were willing to sell top midfielders Paul Pogba of France and Chilean Arturo Vidal.
The hugely popular and volatile Conte was immediately replaced by former AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose deadpan personality could not be a greater contrast to his predecessor.
Allegri won the Serie A title with Milan in 2011 but was sacked midway through last season after a dreadful start that left them languishing in mid-table.
Last week, Juventus confirmed they had signed Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata for 20 million euros (15.8 million pounds) while Fabio Quagliarella was sold to neighbours Torino.
Evra's departure from Old Trafford following those of Vidic and Rio Ferdinand leaves new United manager Louis van Gaal short of experience in defence.
They signed 19-year-old England left back Luke Shaw from Southampton for 30 million pounds but Van Gaal will be looking to add at least one established central defender to his squad before the new season.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)