Barcelona: Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta is on the verge of signing for Japanese top-flight side Vissel Kobe, Spanish media said on Wednesday, reporting that the former Barcelona captain will announce the move officially on Thursday. Reports in Barcelona said the midfielder, who played his final game for Barca on Sunday after a glittering 16-year career, flew to Japan on Wednesday and is expected to hold a news conference the next day. Kobe are owned by Hiroshi Mikitani, who is also the chief executive of Barcelona’s main sponsor Rakuten.
If Iniesta completes the move he will join up with former German international Lukas Podolski, who joined Kobe last year. Barcelona and Denmark great Michael Laudrup played for Kobe for one season between 1996 and 1997, while former Barca striker Gary Lineker saw out his playing career in Japan with Nagoya Grampus. Iniesta announced at a news conference in April that he was calling time on his long career with Barca, where he moved to aged 12 in 1996 to join the club’s academy.