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Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has said he will confirm whether or not he will leave the club this summer at some point this week.
The Blaugrana great left the pitch in tears on Saturday at the Wanda Metropolitano, as Barca hammered Sevilla 5-0 in the final of the Copa del Rey; Iniesta was one of the goalscorers in the emphatic win, and his show of emotion left many assuming he’s on his way out.
According to The Independent, the Spain midfielder is set to join Chinese Super League side Chongqing Dangdai Lifan at the end of the campaign. Speaking after Saturday’s match, Iniesta said we’ll find out soon enough.
“This week I will make the decision public,” he said, per Mundo Deportivo (h/t FourFourTwo). “There are many emotions, many feelings, many years – I’m happy to be able to give this image and the title. … This week I will speak about the decision I make, as a person and as an athlete. The affection the people have shown me is priceless.”
As noted below, Iniesta has been a serial winner during his time at Barcelona:
B/R Football @brfootball
Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta have won 31 (!) trophies together 😳 https://t.co/QpuNXZ1Yah
Should he depart as anticipated, it will be a sad say for Cules around the world, as the 33-year-old has been one of the greatest players ever to don the Barcelona colours.
Iniesta has been at the heart of Barca’s dominance for the past decade in Spain and, alongside Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets, forged one of the greatest midfield setups the sport has ever seen.
His touch, his awareness and the variety of his passing have made Iniesta such a joy to watch down the years. And as we can see, via The Spanish Football Podcast, the playmaker is cherished by all of Spain:
The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast
The 🗞 frontpages this morning… Marca “The Last Emperor” As “ Iniesta Don’t Go!” Sport “Long Live The King!” MD “Eternal Champion” https://t.co/p4xnUlOGEa
There will be plenty who say Iniesta is departing too soon, as he remains one of the best midfielders in world football on his day.
Indeed, during the mauling of Sevilla, he excelled once again, and his goal, which saw Iniesta quickly shift the ball past the goalkeeper before tucking home, was a vintage piece of play from the legendary player.
But the opportunity to ply his trade elsewhere appears to have tempted Iniesta at this late stage of his career. And as relayed by Sid Lowe of the Guardian, this way the veteran can ensure he does at least go out on a high:
Sid Lowe @sidlowe
Lots of “Iniesta don’t go”, which will actually reinforce his sense that this is the right time and the right way to go.
Barcelona appear to have been preparing for the day Iniesta departs, with many citing January signing Philippe Coutinho as someone who can go some way to filling the big shoes he’ll leave behind.
But Iniesta is one of a kind. Having come through the Blaugrana academy, cemented his status as a first-team regular and become one of the finest players of his generation, he’s an irreplaceable figure at the Camp Nou. It’ll be a sad day for all when he dons the club colours for the final time.