Andres Iniesta Signs for Japanese Club Vissel Kobe After Barcelona Departure

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2018

TOKYO, JAPAN - MAY 24: New Vissel Kobe player Andres Iniesta (R) and Rakuten Inc. CEO Hiroshi Mikitani attend attend a press conference  on May 24, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan.  (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Andres Iniesta has signed for Japanese club Vissel Kobe following his departure from Barcelona on a reported two-year contract.

The club confirmed his capture on Thursday with a statement on their official website, while the J-League posted photos of the playmaker with his new shirt:

In their statement, Kobe said of the Barcelona legend: "Since the beginning of his professional career with FC Barcelona in 2002, Iniesta has not only become one of the top players in the world, he is also renowned for his embodiment of the philosophy and values of the iconic club, with his commitment to teamwork and beautiful play."

ESPN FC's Samuel Marsden shared further comments:

Iniesta departed Barcelona earlier this month after a glittering career at the Camp Nou, where he won 32 major honours, including nine La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions Leagues and six Copas del Rey.

He hinted at the move to Vissel Kobe on Wednesday when he posted a picture of himself on a plane with Kobe owner Hiroshi Mikitani:

Mikitani is CEO of e-commerce company Rakuten, who began sponsoring Barcelona last summer in a four-year deal worth a minimum of £188 million to the Catalan giants.

Iniesta will link up with former Bayern Munich and Arsenal star Lukas Podolski, who made the switch to Japan last year. The German welcomed his new team-mate to the club:

Vissel are sixth in the J-League after 15 matches, and they're already 15 points behind league-leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Iniesta, 34, may be a world-class operator past his prime, but he's still capable of achieving a high level when he takes to the field—his technical ability, intelligence and experience can have a significant impact on Kobe's fortunes.  

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