Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta is getting ready to leave Vissel Kobe after five years playing in Japan and has previously stated on more than one occasion his desire to return to Camp Nou.
Iniesta made the switch to Japanese football in 2018 when he bade an emotional farewell to Barcelona, for whom he had made 674 appearances in all competitions.
But when speaking about his future in 2022, Iniesta revealed he planned to spend just one more year in Japan until 2023 – this year. At almost 39, his playing career has been winding down and the 2010 World Cup winner has featured only sparingly for Kobe this season.
His contract runs until the end of the current J1 League campaign, but a local report from Nikkan Sports suggests the player could leave sooner – his last game could be a planned friendly between Kobe and Barcelona on 6 June. However, he still may not go straight into retirement and may yet have options to extend his career in the United States or Middle East should he want to.
Ultimately, Iniesta’s desire is to take up a role at Barcelona once he finishes playing.
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“I’ll spend another year here, then we’ll see,” Iniesta told Gazzetta Dello Sport last October. “I’d like to return to Barcelona, but I don’t know which role. Coach, sporting director or other.”
Earlier in 2022, Iniesta had told journalist Gerard Romero: “I would love to return to Barcelona. I would like to help the institution. There are many variables involved and it is difficult to know what will happen in the future. Barça is my home and I couldn’t be better than there.
“Many times it crosses my mind that I would like to get the title of coach or prepare to be a sports director. I would like to be linked to football, yes.
“I want the same thing that all Barcelona fans want: for the team to do well, to come back and win points. And to achieve whatever is possible. Everything needs time. Everything.”
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