Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta announced today that he will leave Japanese club Vissel Kobe before his contract expires, but he wants to continue playing until he is 39. The 2010 world champion’s contract runs until the end of the year, but Iniesta said he was leaving Vissel in July after his role was rejected. The midfielder appeared as a substitute in three matches and played just 38 minutes in total this season, with Vissel leading the league in three-pointers through 14 of 34 positions.
The midfield maestro said he was unsure where his next destination was but ruled out retirement. Widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation, Iniesta returned to Barcelona as part of the coaching staff. “First I want to finish my time here well and then see what my options are,” he told reporters, pausing occasionally to wipe away tears. He continued, “I want to continue playing and retire while still being active on the courts. It’s hard for me here, so I want to find a place where I can finally retire.”
The painter joined Vissel Copi in 2018 after 16 years in the Barcelona first team, with whom he won the Champions League four times and the Spanish league nine times. He signed a three-year contract with Wiesel with an annual salary of $30 million, which he extended in May 2021.
Iniesta won the Emperor’s Cup in 2019 and led Vissel to the AFC Champions League semi-finals a year later, and he also won the 2020 Japanese Super Cup. But the team struggled to avoid relegation last season and fired several coaches before the end. 13th in the 18-team league. .
Iniesta said that leaving Visel was “one of the most difficult decisions of my career. I always thought I would retire here, but things didn’t go the way I wanted.” Iniesta will play alongside Vissel in a friendly against Barcelona at the Tokyo National Stadium on June 6. Their last home match in the league is against Consadol Sapporo on 1 July.
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