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Iniesta talks Koeman, Laporta, Messi, returning to Barcelona, becoming a coach



Photo via Imago

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of a certain Andres Iniesta joining Barcelona’s La Masia academy. What followed next will not be forgotten anytime soon.

Having risen through the club’s ranks, Iniesta went on to establish himself as one of the greatest ever midfielders to have played for Barcelona, scratch that, one of the greatest ever midfielders to have played the game, period.

In total, Iniesta went on to make 674 appearances for Barcelona, scoring 57 goals and setting up 138 more before departing for Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe in 2018. During his time at Camp Nou, the 37-year-old won nine La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League trophies, six Copa del Rey trophies, seven Spanish Super Cups, three UEFA Super Cups, and much more.

A two-time UEFA European Championships winner with Spain, Iniesta also has a FIFA World Cup winners’ medal in his cabinet, earning him a deserving spot in the pantheon of legends of the game.

Following the celebration of the 25th anniversary of his arrival at La Masia, Iniesta sat down with for an interview, during which he spoke of things ranging from Joan Laporta, to his plans for the future and various other topics.

Looking back, looking forward

Reflecting on his time at Barcelona the academy, Iniesta said: “It’s already a bit dizzy because it’s been many years, but without a doubt, it was a very important step in my life, not only at a sporting level but also personally because then everything that has come came. I always remember it as something incredible. 

In all those years there, to simplify it, I lived very good and very hard times at the beginning because I separated from my family, but it is undoubtedly the best thing that has happened to me in life.”

As to whether he planned to become a manager once he retired, Iniesta insisted that he would like to continue contributing to the game, potentially as a coach.

“There are days when you think about wanting to train, others when you don’t … I don’t know. What I would like, and what I think I will do, is get the title of coach. I would like to be linked to football because it is my life, it has been and I hope it continues to be.”

Return to Barcelona?

When broached about the possibility of a return to Barcelona, Iniesta insisted that it is not what he thinks of currently, but would always be open to going back to Camp Nou, not because of his reputation and status, but only if he could add value to the team.

“It is not what I see myself in. What I can tell you is that I would love to return to Barça, it is very clear. But not because I have been there playing, because of my surname …, but because I can be useful and have the ability to help Barça in another area. That I really would like.”

Joan Laporta

Iniesta also spoke in glowing terms of current Barcelona president Joan Laporta. The 37-year-old also insisted that he hopes to see the club in better shape than it has been in the past couple of years with all the issues on and off the field.

“Laporta gives me a lot of confidence and in this sense I wish him all the best. But talking now about hypothetical situations at one or two years does not make sense. 

“All I want is for Barça to find that positive line again in every way, football and institutional. Today that is what would make me happier,” he said.

On Ronald Koeman and Barcelona’s problems

Iniesta revealed that he kept abreast of the happenings at the club through media as well as some of his former teammates, claiming that Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba are two players who continue to be in contact with.

The former Spanish international also gave his two cents on the situation that manager Ronald Koeman finds himself in, claiming that pressure is natural for anyone in the Barcelona hot seat and everyone needs time to sort things out.

“The Barça coach knows that he is always predisposed to all situations. The moment the coach entered, it is clear, it was not easy, nor is it now. Everything needs its time. Hopefully, he is lucky and the team finds the good feelings again.”

Xavi ready to succeed as Barcelona manager

Iniesta’s name cannot be taken without mentioning his legendary midfield partner Xavi Hernandez. Currently managing Qatari club Al Sadd, he has been linked with the Barcelona job quite heavily. And his former partner-in-crime has total faith that Xavi is ready for the job at Camp Nou.

“I think so. If you ask if I imagine Xavi on the Barça bench, without being misinterpreted as you say it has to be now, everyone would agree that it is. Especially since he has been preparing and is trained. He has the confidence to meet that challenge.”

On Messi’s exit

Asked as to what he made of Lionel Messi’s shock summer exit from Barcelona, Iniesta said:

“The only thing I can do is assess it from the outside, what happened or not only the people who were directly there know. I feel strange, as I suppose many people, to see Leo in another shirt. My wish would have been for him to continue, which was what he wanted, but sometimes things change.”

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