A time announced in China, it is finally towards Japan that the Spaniard Andrés Iniesta will go for a last challenge. The former FC Barcelona midfielder announced on social networks are departing to the Vissel Kobe club.
His “new home” will be Japan. The iconic FC Barcelona captain Andrés Iniesta announced on Wednesday night that he will be 34 years old for the country of the rising sun after 22 years at Barça, his long-time club.
Expected since his goodbyes in tears Sunday at Camp Nou, this departure was formalized on his Twitter account by the legendary number 8 Barça.
“On the way to my new home with my friend H. Mikitani,” wrote the midfielder, above a photograph showing him in a plane, visibly a private jet, alongside Hiroshi Mikitani. A message followed by emoji including the Japanese flag and a football.
Boss of the Japanese online trading giant Rakuten, sponsor of Barça shirt, this businessman is also owner of the Japanese club Vissel Kobe, where Iniesta must sign, according to several media, after spending 22 years at Barça, his club of always .
While many footballers choose China instead to finish their career, this transfer will represent a big blow of Japan in the transfer market. If the Japanese championship attracted the Brazilian Zico or the English Gary Lineker in the 1990s, he has struggled to attract big names in recent years.
In Kobe, Iniesta will join the former German football star Lukas Podolski, who arrived from Galatasaray last year.
Andrés Iniesta announced at the end of April that he will leave FC Barcelona in May, the only professional club where he has played since he was 12. After leaving doubt over his destination, he said last week hesitate between China and Japan.
Iniesta, a wine producer in his home region of Castile-La Mancha and eager to find export markets, acknowledged that the economic aspect of the offer was “relatively important”. Spanish radio Cadena SER reported a net salary of 25 million euros per season and a three-season contract with the J-League club. Described as “world heritage” by his former coach Luis Enrique, the native of Fuentealbilla is an icon in Barcelona who had given him the privilege of signing a contract “for life” in October, a rare practice in football allowing him to choose himself when to bow.
Overall, Iniesta has won 32 titles in the blaugrana jersey, including nine Liga including the last and four league champions.
His departure Sunday was loaded with emotions at Camp Nou. “It’s a difficult day, but those twenty-two years have been wonderful. It has been a pride and a pleasure to defend and represent this emblem, which for me is the best in the world, “said the player.
Remaining famous for his goal in the finals of the 2010 World Cup against the Netherlands (1-0), Iniesta also achieved a historic treble with La Roja by winning this World Cup and two titles of European Champion in 2008 and 2012.
In Russia, Iniesta will play in the Spanish jersey the last competition in selection of his huge career. Before saying goodbye to Spain.