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KOBE, Japan (AP) — Andrés Iniesta, who won the World Cup with Spain in 2010 as well as four Champions League and nine La Liga titles with Barcelona, will leave Japanese club Vissel Kobe.
Iniesta held back tears on Thursday when announcing his departure and said he wanted to continue playing, although he did not clarify where.
When asked where he could go, he replied that he did not know, although he added that “I really want to continue playing.”
Media reports pointed to a transfer in the Middle East, but gave no details about clubs.
“I have worked very hard during these months to help my team,” said Iniesta, who expressed his desire to maintain ties with the Japanese club in the future.
After ending his long career at Barcelona, Iniesta joined Vissel in 2018 on a three-year deal and later extended his stay with a two-year extension. Media reports indicated that he was leaving because he wanted more playing time.
Iniesta, who just turned 39, made the announcement at a news conference at the club in the western city of Kobe.
Their last game was expected to be at home on July 1, as a farewell to the fans. Vissel Kobe leads the J-League after 14 games.
Iniesta scored the winning goal in the 116th minute of extra time in the 2020 World Cup final in which Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 to claim their only world title.
The veteran midfielder said that going to Japan had been one of the best decisions of his life. He reiterated his gratitude to the club, to the fans and to his teammates, and said that he had always felt welcome.