Veteran Andres Iniesta has decided to leave the ranks of Japan’s Vissel Kobe and press reports have suggested that this will be the Spanish star’s next move in the Middle East, without revealing any details.
Iniesta, 39, said during a press conference about his reasons for leaving: “I always imagined that I would retire here, but sometimes things don’t go as planned because I still want to continue and fight on the field, so moreover, I have been training well in recent months.” I feel ready to play.”
The 2010 world champion’s contract runs until the end of the year, but Iniesta said he would leave Wissel in July after his role was reduced.
The midfielder has made 3 appearances as a substitute and has played just 38 minutes for Japan this season, leading the league by 3 points after going through 14 of 34 stages.
The midfield maestro said he didn’t know where his next destination would be but ruled out retirement.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation, Iniesta has been linked with a return to Barcelona to be part of the coaching staff.
“First, I want to end my stay here well and then see what options I have,” he told reporters, pausing from time to time to dry his tears.
He continued: “I want to keep playing and then retire while I’m still active in stadiums. It’s hard for me here, so I want to find a place where I can retire at the end.”
The artist joined Vissel Kobe in 2018 after 16 years with the Barcelona first team, with whom he won the Champions League four times and the La Liga nine times.
Thank you! 🙏🏻☺️ https://t.co/9qkoIlD4ab
– Andres Iniesta (@andresiniesta8) May 25, 2023
He signed a three-year, $30 million annual contract with Vissel, which he renewed in May 2021.
Iniesta won the Emperor’s Cup in 2019 and took Vissel to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League a year later and also won the 2020 Japanese Super Cup.
But the team struggled to avoid relegation last season and fired several coaches in a row before eventually finishing 13th in the 18-team league.
Iniesta said leaving Wissel was “one of the hardest decisions of my career. I always thought I would retire here, but things didn’t go the way I wanted.”
He added: “Over the past few months I’ve been training hard to contribute to the team, but I’m starting to feel like the coach has other priorities.”
Iniesta will face Wissel in a friendly against Barcelona at the Tokyo National Stadium on June 6.
Their last home match will be on 1 July against Consadole Sapporo in the league.