Iniesta signs with Japan’s Vissel Kobe after leaving Barcelona

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Tokyo, May 23 (IANS) Spanish international midfielder Andres Iniesta has signed a deal with Japanese football club Vissel Kobe, Japan’s state news agency NHK reported on Wednesday, confirming growing speculation about the player’s move to the J-League after ending his 22-year-long career at FC Barcelona.

Iniesta, who was set to travel to Japan later on Wednesday, could be officially introduced on Thursday at an event in Tokyo, although Vissel Kobe refused to confirm the ceremony when contacted by EFE.

The two-time European champion and scorer of the only goal in Spain’s victorious World Cup final victory against the Netherlands, played his last game for Barcelona on Sunday and received an emotional farewell from the club and fans.

He is set to start at his new club after playing for Spain in the upcoming World Cup in Russia.

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Hiroshi Mikitani, the owner of Vissel Kobe, is the founder and CEO of tech giant Rakuten, which is the major sponsor of FC Barcelona.

Iniseta is following in the steps of former Spanish nationals Txiki Begiristain, Andoni Goikoetxea and Juilo Salinas, who played in the J-league in the 1990s.

–IANS

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