Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta will sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club, according to vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Iniesta, 29, has been with the club throughout his senior career and has been in negotiations over a new deal for some time, prompting speculation, which the midfielder recently quashed, that he may move on at the end of his current deal, as reported by the Manchester Evening News.
Five-year contract extension for Iniesta http://t.co/TA4Jvj4MAa— MARCA in English (@MARCAinENGLISH) October 22, 2013
However, per ITV.com, the club official said on Tuesday:
Negotiations are ongoing and both parties want to reach an agreement. Iniesta is one of the highest paid because he is the best player in Europe. The renewal will be the maximum permitted by law, five years.
The creative midfielder has long been an established member of the first-team setup at the Camp Nou, winning nearly every major honour in the game with both club and country.
That he would be allowed to leave Barcelona, given his contribution to the club for the best part of a decade had seemed frankly inconceivable. Yet, as time passed and no extension was signed, speculation regarding a possible departure rapidly increased.
However, with 18 months still remaining on his current deal, it appears that an agreement has been struck to keep the attacking midfielder at the club for what will likely be his remaining years.
Losing Iniesta at this stage would have been a body blow for Bartomeu and the Rosell presidency at the Camp Nou, having seen rising midfield star Thiago Alcantara depart the club this summer.
While Cesc Fabregas has raised himself back to genuine world-class levels over the past year, the decline of 33-year-old Xavi over the same period makes retaining Iniesta an evermore pressing matter.
For all the talk of Sergi Roberto, Sergi Samper and the likes progressing from the academy system, Barcelona would have been left with no alternative but to spend enormous money securing a replacement had Iniesta left.
He is a virtually impossible figure to replace like-for-like, and placing faith in an emerging talent to fill his position in the first-team squad would have been a sure-fire way to slip back from Europe's elite.
If Iniesta doesn't renew it's a nightmare as big as Messi leaving. I'm not exaggerating.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) September 12, 2013
Iniesta has been one of the great players of his time and a terrific servant to Barcelona. Having arrived at the club as a teenager, it now feels difficult to imagine him playing for any other side.
For the club's directors, allowing him to depart was surely never an option.