Iniesta's Future Could be in Japan, But Don't Discount China... Yet

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Iniesta will announce his next club before the Russia World Cup (Flickr)
(WFI) The Far East seems to be the final destination for Andres Iniesta.
What the Spanish midfielder only has to announce is whether his next club is in China, as first reported, or perhaps… Japan.

China’s Titan Media Group insists that conversations between Iniesta and club Chongqing continue despite that institution’s latest statement. Its president, Jiang Lizhang, says that while they had an "in-depth cooperation" with Iniesta for marketing purposes, Chongqing would not pay the Barcelona midfielder an irresponsibly high salary.

"Mr. Iniesta is in deep partnership with sports industrial sectors under our club's shareholding company, including sports agency, marketing and sales, and youth training," Lizhang said. "We won't rule out the possibility of deepening future cooperation in the Chinese market, but by no means it indicates that Mr. Iniesta will join our club as a player."

Lizhang also wrote that the club would adhere to Chinese Football requirements which impose strict salary rules on foreign players.

According to some reports in Spain, at one point Chongqing was considering paying Iniesta close to $95 million for a three-year contract.

Iniesta announced last month that he would be leaving Barcelona after 22 years. Soon after, Chongqing’s sponsor said it felt "positive on introducing Iniesta."

Nevertheless now as the Chongqing option seems to gradually be fading, a move to Japan suddenly is rising on Iniesta’s horizon.

According to reports from Spain’s Cadena Ser, the 2010 World Champion will play the next three seasons for the Japanese club Vissel Kobe. That institution is owned by Hiroshi Mikitani, who also controls Barcelona’s main sponsor, Rakuten.

Cadena Ser claims the deal between Vissel and Iniesta was finalized last week during Mikitani’s visit to Barcelona to watch El Clasico between the Catalan team and Real Madrid.

The report talks of a three-year contract for the player in exchange for almost $90 million and the inclusion in the deal of the commercial exploitation of Iniesta’s wineries in Spain.

However, when asked about the transfer of the Barcelona player to Japan, Vissel Kobe says it does not know of any direct negotiations with Iniesta. In fact, the club says it had learned of the alleged signing through Japanese media.

A spokesperson for Rakuten says the company "cannot comment" on the alleged signing.

Among the renowned players who have signed for Vissel is Michael Laudrup, who played there during the 1996-1997 season after his departure from Real Madrid.

Iniesta remains quiet for now on his future and has only promised to reveal his plans at the “appropriate time”. It is also known that the midfielder wants to have his future resolved before Spain's national team departs for the Russia World Cup in less than four weeks.


By INSIDER Javier Monne

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