FC Barcelona mid-field maestro Andrés Iniesta, who delighted their fans for 16 years, will play his last match for the League Champions on Sunday at the Camp Nou against Real Sociedad. It will be an emotional game for the one of the best mid-fielders of this era.
Iniesta has been hailed as the most respected player in Spanish football history and even rival team players and fans adored him a lot throughout his illustrious career. The 34-year-old Spaniard has helped his club to win the La Liga and Spanish Cup. According to many reports, Iniesta is yet to make a decision on his future hereafter.
In his long-established career at Barcelona, Iniesta has won 32 titles for the club with his teammate and the 'Greatest Player Of All Time' Lionel Messi. After the departure of another club legend Xavi, the duo of Messi-Iniesta has played some magical football on the field with their intriguing passing game. Iniesta has scored 57 goals for his club in 669 matches.
In his last match, Iniesta will miss the Argentinean on the field as he is rested for the match, confirmed by the club manager Ernesto Valverde. It will be a tough task for the Barcelona management to find a perfect replacement for the club legend. In the last transfer market, they bought Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool for a hefty price, but it will tough for him to fill in the shoes of Iniesta.
In an emotional news conference on Friday attended by most of his teammates, his family and club executives, the midfielder who has embodied Barcelona's creative attacking style said that he was leaving after 16 trophy-packed seasons.
"I have spent all my life here at this club and it is not easy to leave," Iniesta said after fighting back tears and regaining his composure. "My time here ends this season. I understand that the club that took me in at 12 deserves the best of me in return, and I have given it that until now, but in the near future I won't be able to both physically and mentally.
"The club has placed its confidence," he said. "And I have always said that if I am not able to give my all to my club that has given me everything then I wouldn't be happy."
Iniesta, who turns 34 on May 11, said that he intends to continue playing but did not reveal what his next club will be.
"I have always said that I would never compete against my club, so all the options outside Europe are open," Iniesta said. "When the season is over we will know my choice."
(With AP inputs)