Andres Iniesta Joins Japanese Club Vissel Kobe
Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta have completed his move to the Japanese top-flight side Vissel Kobe.
Iniesta signed his new contract on Thursday amid speculations that the midfielder was on his way to China.
But it appeared that the intervention of Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of the e-commerce giant Rakuten (Barca’s shirt sponsors), and also owner of the Vissel Kobe through another of his companies, was decisive.
The 34-year-old follows in the footsteps of Txiki Beguiristain, Andoni Goikoetxea and Julio Salinas, who played in the J-League in the late 90’s.
“It’s a very important day for me, a challenge in my career,” Iniesta said to reporters at his first press conference.
“I trust in this project, Japan is a wonderful country, and I come to play and work with my teammates.
“I received several offers from other clubs, but I decided on Vissel Kobe because the project they presented to me was very interesting, they showed confidence in me and I have a lot of respect for Japanese football.”
“I am confident Iniesta’s philosophy, leadership and DNA will be a terrific inspiration, not only for Kobe but Japanese football society,” the club owner, Hiroshi Mikitani said.
“We look forward to Andres 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,” he added.
At 34 Iniesta has won 32 trophies at the Catalan club, where he made 674 senior appearances, having joined the youth set-up aged 12.
His last game for the club came in Sunday’s La Liga win over Real Sociedad.
Rumbo a mi nuevo hogar, con mi amigo @hmikitani…??⚽ ✈️ ?
Heading to my new home, with my friend ??⚽ ✈️ ? pic.twitter.com/xeXBw4GYfc
— Andrés Iniesta (@andresiniesta8) May 23, 2018