On Thursday morning in Tokyo, Andres Iniesta signed his new contract as a player of Vissel Kobe, before noting that playing in Japan will be another challenge in his career.
Speculation had been rife that the former Barcelona midfielder was on his way to China, but it appears the intervention of Hiroshi Mikitani, founder and CEO of the e-commerce giant Rakuten (Barcelona's shirt sponsors), and also owner of the Japanese club through another of his companies, was decisive.
"It's a very important day for me, a challenge in my career," Iniesta said to reporters at his first press conference. "I trust in this project, Japan is a wonderful country, and I come to play and work with my teammates. "I received several offers from other clubs, but I decided on Vissel Kobe because the project they presented to me was very interesting. "They showed confidence in me and I have a lot of respect for Japanese football."
Mikitani, for his part, believes in the values and experience that Iniesta can bring. "His values and ability to influence globally will be an inspiration for the club, for the whole league and Japanese society," he noted. "The methodology of La Masia and Iniesta himself will be applied to the academy of young footballers here, and we will collaborate in this regard with FC Barcelona."
Iniesta's arrival has generated a huge expectation in the Asian country, reflected in the more than two hundred Japanese journalists who attended his opening press conference.
On Saturday, another presentation at the stadium. He will be presented at the stadium of his new club in western Japan this Saturday, and then he will join the Spanish national team prior to the World Cup in Russia.
At 34 years old and with 32 titles won at Barcelona, as well as being World and European Champion with La Roja, Iniesta will now be the reference player of Vissel Kobe and one of the top attractions of the J-League.
He follows in the footsteps of Txiki Beguiristain, Andoni Goikoetxea and Julio Salinas, who played in the J-League in the late 90's.
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