Spain’s 2010 World Cup hero has finally decided to leave his boyhood club Barcelona after what feels like centuries of dominance from the Catalan midfielder. Andres Iniesta will link up with Japanese Football League (JFL) side Vissel Kobe.
The 34-year old explains that Vissel Kobe showed a lot of interest in him. The moment he decided to join the Japanese side was because of the “trust and confidence” they had in him.
After 22 years controlling the game at Barcelona, Iniesta said “I had a lot of offers, other clubs showed an interest in me,”
“I chose Vissel Kobe because it was an interesting project.”
He added: “There was also a lot of trust and confidence in me as a person and also as a player – that was a big reason.”
ESPN have reported Iniesta will be on a $30M contract (£22.39m, annual salary).
Vissel Kobe owner Hiroshi Mikitani hopes Iniesta can help the next generation of players at the club. In fact, it would appear as if the signing of Iniesta is done so in hope of the Spaniard playing a part in identifying the club’s philosophy.
Andres Iniesta was a genius
Hiroshi Mikitani said: “I am confident Iniesta’s philosophy, leadership and DNA will be a terrific inspiration, not only for Kobe but Japanese football society.”
Mikitani added: “We look forward to Iniesta not only strengthening the team’s performance but also contributing to the development of the next generation of players through the introduction of the Iniesta methodology to the youth academy.
“We believe his decision to come to Japan will have a major impact, not just on Vissel Kobe, but on football in Japan and Asia.”
Andres Iniesta has won a total of 32 trophies in 22-years. The now-former Barcelona captain made 674 senior appearances for the Catalans. A club he joined when he was just 12-years old.
Iniesta’s last game for Barcelona came in a win over Real Sociedad.
Andres Iniesta will be representing Spain at the 2018 World Cup in June.
A true legend of the modern game, Iniesta tweeted he was going to his “new home”. Where he will link up with former Arsenal, Germany and Bayern Munich Forwards Lukas Podolski.
Iniesta will adopt the number eight shirt at Kobe. His new side currently occupies 6th place in the table after 15 games. A current improvement on last seasons 9th place finish.
Mikitani added: “Iniesta will raise the profile of Japanese football globally and we are working on activities to leverage his presence here and promote the J-League worldwide.
“I am very proud to see this day come. We will do everything in our power to support Iniesta during his time in Japan and show us all his beautiful, inspiring play.”
It’s a sad day for European football, It’s clear Andres Iniesta is moving to a club he feels he can rise to the standards he set in Europe.