Never a guy who’d go on to attract the media attention with over-the-top hairstyles, eye-catching tattoos or flaunting dressing style, the Spanish maestro Andres Iniesta has always been a man of little things with a big effect.
Whether it’s a defense-splitting pass, out-of-this-world piece of skill or simply the way he would use simple magic to work his way out of being trapped and enclosed by five or six opposing players, Andres Iniesta kept dazzling for years.
The 33-year-old magical midfielder stood inconspicuously in the shadow of the more prominent football stars – both in the ranks of his own team Barcelona and across the footballing map – but his perfect on-pitch attitude saw him constantly grab the spotlight for all the right reasons.
A look back on a glorious career he’s had – at the moment when he is about to make the biggest decision of his life – offers a frightening insight into all that he achieved with an only club he’s ever played for.
Andres Iniesta looks set to be saying a final farewell to Barcelona.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 22, 2018
A La Masia product – one of the last gems to have gripped the football world starting from the Barcelona youth academy – Andres Iniesta made a first-team debut in 2002. It wasn’t until 2004/05 season that he took a firm grab on the starting spot.
An integral part of Barcelona’s glorious sides that won historic trebles in 2009 and 2015, Iniesta will forever remain remembered as the man who packed his trophy cabinet with no less than 31 club trophies.
The last of those – the 2018 Copa del Rey trophy – came to his hands off the back of a 5-0 thumping of Sevilla at the Wanda Metropolitano this weekend in Madrid. Arguably the last-ever final Iniesta would play for Barcelona draw tears to his eyes as the stadium – and the entire world for that mattered – later on cheered him on to lift the trophy high in the air when Barcelona broke the tradition of two captains with Iniesta asked to do the honours on this glorious occasion.
Iniesta (Instagram): “Thank you very much everyone for a magical and unforgettable night. I can only thank you for so much love!” [andresiniesta8] pic.twitter.com/YPeCWsS0Jk
— Barca Centre Media (@bcentremedia) April 22, 2018
The Barcelona playmaker saw a light shine upon him in a masterpiece of a performance he staged on the big occasion. Iniesta got his name on the scoresheet with a remarkable goal and pulled the strings overall as Barcelona put in a dominant display to win the national Cup for the record 30th time – and fourth time in a row.
Good Lord the goal scored by Iniesta! Look at that trick, I had to watch it 3 times to exactly understand what happened pic.twitter.com/7FIeDy7Uor
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) April 21, 2018
The Spanish press publications are heaping praise on the veteran midfielder, pleading him not to go and questioning the rumours spreading like a virus at the moment.
His head bowed down and tears in his eyes as Iniesta walked out of the pitch in the 88th minute were a clear indication that the end is near and that an offer from the far East could very well be accepted.
“What on Earth is Iniesta doing by leaving for China?”, asks Marca, arguing that diminutive midfielder still have plenty in his tank to be a valuable force for his club.
Plenty of clubs would jump to an opportunity to keep him in Europe and Quique Setien urging his to sign for Real Betis, but Chongqing Dongdai Lifan remain confident the Chinese finances – and Paulo Bento at the helm – will be enough to lure him over to the emerging Chinese football scene.
Meanwhile, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu will not give up the chase.
Well aware of the options in front of Iniesta, Bartomeu hopes a change of plot is possible. “I know he has offers but Barca is the team of his life. He arrived here at 12 years old, he’s given everything and has an indefinite contract.”
Standing at arguably the biggest crossroads of his career – albeit at the age of 33 – Iniesta will make his decision public in the coming days.
Whatever it may be, the world will surely once again salute the ‘Spanish King’ and one of the last members of a dying ‘one-club’ breed of players.
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