Iconic Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta has joined Japanese club Vissel Kobe after the veteran star ended his 17-year association with Catalan giants Barcelona. Speculation was rife that Iniesta would move on with clubs from China and MLS also linked with a move for the little maestro.
However, he decided that Japan would be his next destination and he has stated he wants to leave a mark on the Japanese game after joining Vissel Kobe, where he will play alongside for Arsenal and Germany forward Lukas Podolski.
Iniesta is a true football legend
Iniesta is a player who has won every trophy there is to win in both club and international football. This season he won his ninth Spanish top-flight title, while he has also won the Champions League on four occasions, amongst other trophies in a silverware-laden career at the Nou Camp.
The 34-year-old was part of Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering team Barcelona team that took the game by storm and produced the now-famous Tiki-taka style of football. In fact, he was a key player in the style now synonymous with Guardiola and that particular Blaugrana team.
Iniesta will go down as a true legend, not only is he highly skilful and a top player, he is regarded as a very humble character. The Masia graduate always comes across as a nice guy, who has no heirs or graces about him.
A mass commercial appeal
The signing of Andres Iniesta will raise the profile of the J-League and Vissel Kobe in particularly. The midfielder is a world-famous face, who will no doubt attract more spectators to the Japanese top-flight.
The likes of MLS and the Chinese Super League have used similar tactics to attempt to help their leagues grow at a greater rate. However, it is not the first time that the Japanese league has tried to boost its profile by a big name foreign arrival. Back in the 1990’s, famous English striker Gary Lineker played in the Japanese top-flight, with mixed results.
In this age of social media and more press coverage, Iniesta’s arrival could prove to be a far more successful in raising the profile of the game in the Far East country.
Unfinished business on the international scene
Despite his advancing years, Iniesta is part of the Spain squad that will compete at this summer’s World Cup in Russia. Iniesta was part of La Roja’s squad that triumph in South Africa in 2010 and with a squad full of talented players, Julen Lopetegui’s side are one of the favourites to lift the trophy this summer.
Spain does have so much midfield talent. However, Iniesta’s experience could prove invaluable in Russia. There is no substitute for experience and the midfielder has experience in abundance. His playing career is not over yet.
The midfielder obviously felt like he needed a new challenge. A move to the Far East will certainly give him that next season. Andres Iniesta is one of the best football players of his generation. The Spaniard will no doubt continue to shine in the J-League next season.
Has Andres Iniesta made the right move by joining Vissel Kobe?