Iniesta signs two-year contract extension at Vissel Kobe

Spanish football great
Andres Iniesta has signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at
J-League side Vissel Kobe till June 2023.

The former Barcelona midfield maestro joined Kobe in 2018 in
a deal worth a reported $30 million a year and recently recovered from a
serious thigh injury.

“I will continue on my quest to make Vissel Kobe a
stronger club,” said the World Cup-winning midfielder, speaking through a
Japanese translator. “I am determined to contribute as much as possible to
bring this team to a higher level,” he added sitting alongside Kobe’s
tech-billionaire owner Hiroshi Mikitani.

Iniesta’s debut at Kobe in July 2018 ended with an embarrassing home defeat, but he helped lead the team to their first Japanese Super Cup title in 2020.

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Iniesta has enjoyed huge popularity in Japan with analysts
estimating he has generated more than $100 million in ticket sales and
merchandising revenue. He has appeared in TV commercials for Japanese sake and
mobile phone services.

Named Kobe’s captain in April 2019 after a shake-up at the
club, Iniesta was sidelined for several months after he suffered a ruptured
tendon in his right thigh last December.

Following surgery in Barcelona, he was back training in
April before returning to action in the J-League this month.

Widely considered one of the most gifted midfielders of all
time, he scored the winning goal as Spain won the 2010 World Cup in South
Africa, and he was a key member of the European Championship-winning side’s of
2008 and 2012.

Iniesta was the driving force behind four Champions League
wins with Barcelona and helped the Catalan club secure domestic trebles in 2009
and 2015.

He also won nine La Liga titles, two European Super Cups and
three FIFA Club World Cups, leaving Barcelona as the most decorated Spanish
player of all time, with more than 30 trophies for club and country.

His decision to join Kobe after 22 years at Barcelona, 16 of
them as a first team player, was seen as a coup for Japanese football, which
had been struggling to attract big names tempted by cash-rich Chinese clubs in
the twilight of their careers.

Kobe owner Mikitani said Iniesta’s decision to stay will
help the team’s ambition to be the top club in Asia while elevating the
standard of football in Japan.

Iniesta “has not just improved Vissel’s status, but he
has improved the global recognition of the J-League,” Mikitani said.

Iniesta said he wanted to stay engaged with Vissel Kobe once
his playing days were over, although he did not say in what capacity.

Author: desi123

Desi123.com is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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