Iniesta to leave Vissel Kobe but vows to play on


Spanish footballer Andres Iniesta, former Barcelona star and a present midfielder with Japanese club Vissel Kobe, leaves at the end of a press conference in Kobe on May 25, 2023. 

Former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta will leave Vissel Kobe after five years at the Japanese club.

The 39-year-old will play his final match for the side on 1 July, midway through the J-League season.

Iniesta, who has made just three substitute appearances so far this season for league leaders Vissel, has no plans to retire immediately.

“I want to finish my time here properly and then see what options are available to me,” he said.

“I want to keep playing and then retire while I’m still active. That’s difficult for me to do here, so I want to find a place where I can eventually retire.”

Iniesta joined Vissel in 2018 and has made 133 appearances for the club, winning Japan’s domestic Emperor’s Cup in 2019 and the Japanese Super Cup the following year.

That followed a 22-year career at Barcelona, where he won 32 trophies in 674 senior appearances.

He said choosing to leave Vissel was “one of the hardest decisions of my career”.

“I always thought I would retire here, but things haven’t gone as I wanted them to,” he said.

“For the past few months I’ve trained hard with the intention of contributing to the team, but I started to feel that the coach had different priorities.”

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