Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta has confirmed he is leaving J-League side Vissel Kobe but is not hanging up his boots just yet.
Iniesta moved to Japan after leaving Barcelona in 2018 but has lost prominence this campaign and will depart halfway through the team’s J-League season.
The midfielder held a press conference on Thursday to confirm his exit and discuss his plans for the future.
“I always thought I would retire here, but things haven’t gone as I wanted them to,” he told reporters.
“For the past few months I’ve trained hard with the intention of contributing to the team, but I started to feel that the coach had different priorities.
“That was my reality and I accepted it with respect. In the end, I decided in discussions with the club that the best decision was to leave, based on a combination of my competitive reality and the passion I felt for continuing to play.
“I have grown a lot as a person and as a professional while being surrounded by great friends at Vissel Kobe. Not only did I get to play football, but I also got to experience and savour this wonderful Japanese culture. I now have special feelings for a country that has welcomed my family so warmly.”
Iniesta also said once again that he would like to come back to Barcelona at some point in the future but thinks a return is “far away” right now.
The midfielder will take on Barcelona in a post-season friendly on June 6 in Tokyo.