Spanish great Iniesta joins Emirates club on 1-year deal - GulfToday

Spanish great Iniesta joins Emirates club on 1-year deal


Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter

In a watershed moment in the history of the UAE football, Emirates Football Club signed Spanish great  Andres Iniesta on a one-year deal.

Iniesta reportedly declined an offer from David Beckham’s Inter Miami of the Major League Soccer to give preference to the UAE club.

Iniesta arrived in Dubai on Monday to sign the deal. He has reportedly joined the club for a fee of eight million Euros – a hike of two million from his previous Vissel Kobe of Japan.

Iniesta had long been associated with the UAE football even before joining Emirates club. He is one of the many great players like Fabio Canavaro of Italy, Míchel Salgado and Argentina legend Diego Maradona, who moved to the UAE in the later stages of their careers. Maradona had joined Al Wasl as a coach and went on to become the manager of Fujairah before joing Dubai Sport Council as their brand ambassador. Iniesta had long been linked to the various clubs after he left the Japanese club.

He made an early exit from Japanese side Kobe but intends to keep playing for a few more years.

The Spanish World Cup winner’s contract with Vissel runs until the end of the year but a tearful Iniesta left in July after seeing little action this season.

Iniesta has made only three substitute appearances totalling 38 minutes this term for Vissel, who are three points clear at the top of the table.  Iniesta had joined Vissel in 2018 after making more than 600 appearances for Barcelona, where he won the Champions League four times and claimed nine La Liga titles.

He signed a three-year deal with Vissel on a reported annual salary of $30 million, which he extended in May 2021. Iniesta won Japan’s domestic Emperor’s Cup in 2019 and led Vissel to the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League a year later.

But the team were embroiled in a relegation battle last season and fired a succession of coaches before eventually finishing 13th in the 18-team division.

Earlier, the former Barcelona captain and Spain World Cup winning team player emphasised the importance of discipline and hard work to achieve the goals of life.

“There is always room for the improvement. Each club needs to work. Each player needs to improve himself at the macro level to bring about the big change as a whole,” he said.

Iniesta was an integral part of the Barcelona squad for almost one-and-a-half decades. He played more than 400 games with the Spanish giants and also won nine Spanish League titles, six Copa Del Ray and seven Spanish Super Cup titles during his stint with Barcelona.

He is one of the most decorated Spanish footballers of all time. He was also a part of the Spanish national team, which won the World Cup in 2010. He has also won the U-20 World Cup and the Club World Cup and Euro Championship in 2008 and 2012 with his national team.

In fact it was he who grabbed a pass from Cesc Fabregas and latched it into the corner of the net to hand Spain their first and only World Cup. His trophy-laden cabinet is a testimony to his stature as a footballer and a captain.

“If you have the commitment and attitude you can learn and help your team-mates as well. If you are ready to do all these things, then you can improve your performance.

“If we can understand that we can always learn new things every day with our team-mates and coaches, then gradually that will improve the performance of individual players, which will surely have an impact on their clubs as well. And the league will become more competitive which will raise the standard of football in the country.

“We should try to create an environment where every player is involved. We should try to help and support young players. If we have this mentality, then it will help the team to grow.

“If you have a goal in life, if you want to achieve something in life, be it in football or any other aspect, you have to be disciplined and work hard in order to achieve that dream.”

Mohammad Abdullah

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