During the international break, almost the entirety of Barcelona’s squad is on international duty, with one player impressing more than most… and of course, its Barcelona’s anchor, Andres Iniesta. Many pundits, fans, and even team-mates are wondering whether or not Iniesta will stay after this season. So let’s have a look at what this means for Iniesta himself and the club as well.
Iniesta turned 33 last May and unsurprisingly has begun to slow down a little bit, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous. After taking up a much smaller role last year under Luis Enrique, Ernesto Valverde held a meeting with Iniesta over the summer and explained to him how important he was to his future plans.
Under Valverde, Iniesta has certainly been saved for the most important occasions, but has consistently impressed throughout the season. Valverde has helped Iniesta find his groove again and as seen with his assist for Spain’s only goal against Germany, the Illusionista still has his magical touch.
One of the pros and cons of the move for Iniesta is the minimal competition that comes with a move abroad. In China for example, the competition is much less fierce than in La Liga and the Champions League. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. Iniesta has forever been in Barcelona’s starting XI, proving that not only is he prepared for heavy competition, but yearns for it.
On the other hand, Iniesta is growing older and his body might not be able to deal with the demands of European football for much longer. At the rate Barcelona are going this current year, one of the possibilities would be sending out Iniesta with a treble (knock on wood). It would mark a fantastic ending to an amazing career, similar to what Xavi experienced during his last year.
For Barcelona, losing Iniesta after this year would be horrible. Although several potential replacements have been signed, nobody’s style will ever compare to that of the magnificent Illusionista. Having Iniesta sign a lifetime contract was a great move thought of by the board. Letting a player choose his own fate is something Iniesta deserves. But, if he does choose to leave after this year though, there will be not only a hole in the midfield, but also a hole in the heart of all Barcelona supporters.
Iniesta is the definition of a true professional and has exemplified all the great things expected from a Barcelona player. Never in the middle of any controversy, he is applauded in most stadiums around Spain and the world. He defines Barcelona and Barcelona defines him. Ultimately, it is his choice, but all Blaugrana fans would be forever grateful to see him play at least another year in the famous Barcelona shirt. Visca Barca!