Tearful Andres Iniesta confirms his Barcelona exit and vows never to play against the club

Lawrence Ostlere
The Independent

A tearful Andres Iniesta confirmed his departure from Barcelona at the end of the season, signalling the culmination of a spectacular 16-year spell at the Camp Nou, as he reiterated his promise never to play against them.

The Barcelona squad were in attendance for an emotional press conference at the club’s training complex, alongside the manager Ernesto Valverde and the club’s senior hierarchy, as the 33-year-old gave a lengthy speech which received an ovation from the room.

“This is best club in the world,” Iniesta said. “I wanted to be honest with myself. I’ve been here since I was 12 years old. If I couldn’t contribute everything I was capable, then it was time to say goodbye. I don’t want to make anybody uncomfortable.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

“I want to say thank you to the club and La Masia, which made me who I am. I want to thank all my team-mates, and my family, especially my wife and my three children, my treasures. Finally, I want to thank the fans, who have been with me through and thick and thin.”

The Spain midfielder won the World Cup and two European championships with his country, and is set to clinch his ninth La Liga title this season to go alongside six Copa del Rey winners’ medals and four Champions League triumphs.

“I feel at peace,” Iniesta said. “I wanted to triumph at this club and I did. Nothing makes me happier than that. I’ve given the best of myself in every sense. As a person representing the club I tried my best. It’s beautiful.”

Iniesta has been linked with a move to Chinese Super League club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan, but refused to confirm where he would be taking his talents next season.

“I spoke with a lot of people: players, coaches, directors. I know what the people want, but I just tried to express myself in recent months, I tried to be honest with myself and with the club. I treated this year like it was my last. Things have gone well both for me and the team and that’s what I’ve liked most this season.”

Iniesta has been linked with a move to Chinese Super League club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan, but refused to confirm where he would be taking his talents next season.

“We will know what’s next when the season ends. There are still things to work out. I said I would never play against Barca, so it’s not going to be in Europe. We will know at the end of the season.”

Asked what what his favourite moment in a trophy-laden association with the club, Iniesta identified his debut for the senior team, a Champions League win over Club Brugge in October 2002. he added that he was not disappointed never to have won the Ballon d’Or.

“It’s not a chip on my shoulder,” he said. ”I think respect is more important than a Ballon d’Or. Everyone likes individual awards, but it doesn’t change who I am.”

What to read next