Iniesta to leave Barcelona, yet to confirm move to China


Pep Guardiola has thanked Andres Iniesta for the role he played during his early years of coaching at Barcelona and hopes the midfielder can teach generations of players to come to play the game the way he did.

The football star has won the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 as well as four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles with Barcelona.

Iniesta has won three major trophies with Spain - two European Championships and a World Cup - and is set to represent Spain in the World Cup in Russian Federation this year.

This was after the Spain global announced at a press conference on Friday he was leaving the La Liga club after 16 years at the heart of the team's midfield.

Iniesta is expected to move to Chinese Super League club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan, with their president Gong Daxing recently admitting they are in negotiations with the Barcelona midfielder. He also thanked the fans, who had seen him "grow since I was 12 years old and have supported me in good and bad times". It ends a run of 22 years with the club, first as a youth player after he joined from Albacete and then the last 16 years in the first team, where he grew to be arguably the best midfielder in the world during his prime.

It would secure a domestic double in Iniesta's farewell campaign, after he scored in a 5-0 win over Sevilla in the Spanish King's Cup final last weekend. "I don't deserve that, and the club don't deserve it, either".

A graduate of Barcelona's famed La Masia Academy, Iniesta's time with the Catalan giants coincided with arguably the best period in the club's history. "(My next move) will be finalized when the season ends".

He has also collected two European Championships and, perhaps most pivotally, fired the winning goal as Spain clinched the 2010 World Cup.

"The only thing I have always said is I would never compete against my club so all scenarios that are not in Europe are possible".

Iniesta has spent his entire senior career at Barcelona and is one of the most loved figures in world football.

The one trophy which has eluded Iniesta in his glittering career is the Ballon d'Or, handed out each year to the world's best player. "Because when our football days are over, that's all we are - people".

Despite all of that, Iniesta has never stolen the limelight at Barca.