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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Iniesta, media star in his presentation in Japan

Por Jade

The Spanish international midfielder Andres Iniesta has signed his new contract as a player of the Japanese Vissel Kobe on Thursday, during his presentation ceremony held in Tokyo before a great expectation, with more than 300 accredited journalists. "Iniesta will sign with Vissel Kobe after his historic career with FC Barcelona," said Japanese businessman Hiroshi Mikitani, founder and CEO of the e-commerce giant Rakuten, and also owner of the Japanese club through another of his companies.

Mikitani praised the Barça academy and the "leadership" of Iniesta, as well as the values of the Spanish footballer and his "capacity for global influence", which will be "an inspiration for the club and for the whole league and Japanese society." The Japanese magnate added that the "methodology" of La Masia and Iniesta himself will apply to the Academy of young footballers of the Japanese club, which will collaborate in this regard with FC Barcelona. The arrival in Japan of the legendary '8' of Barça had been anticipated by the national media several weeks ago and has generated a huge expectation in the Asian country, reflected in the more than two hundred Japanese journalists who attended the event. The footballer has traveled to Tokyo after playing last Sunday his last game with the azulgrana shirt and receiving a tribute from his fans, and will join his new team after the World Cup in Russia, when the Japanese league resumes.

Mikitani, owner of one of the biggest fortunes of the Asian country, has been the main driver of the operation thanks to his good relationship with FC Barcelona, club of which Rakuten is the main sponsor. Iniesta traveled to Japan on the eve in the private jet of his "friend" Mikitani, according to messages and photographs published by both on their respective Twitter accounts. The new signing of Vissel Kobe will also 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. Iniesta, 34 years old and with 32 titles won at Barça, as well as being World Champion and twice in Europe with La Roja, will now be the reference player of Vissel Kobe and one of the top attractions of the J-League.

The team from the Japanese port city also has the former German national Lukas Podolski as a prominent player, and is currently ranked sixth in the Japanese championship, which runs until the month of December. With his departure to the Asian country, the footballer of La Mancha has followed in the footsteps of also Spanish ex-internationals Txiki Beguiristain, Andoni Goikoetxea and Julio Salinas, who played at the end of the 90s in the J-League.

In the brief press conference, the ex-Barça player confirmed that there had been several destinations that were shuffled but that "he had to choose". "I received several offers from other clubs, but I decided on Vissel Kobe because the project they presented to me was very interesting. And they showed me their confidence. In addition, the culture of Japan is wonderful. I would like to enjoy my life here," added Iniesta, who according to the Cadena Ser will charge about 25 million euros per season and play with the number 8 under the name of A. Iniesta.