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Andres Iniesta joins Japan’s Vissel Kobe


Andres Iniesta joins Japan’s Vissel Kobe

Andres Iniesta joins Japan’s Vissel Kobe

Spain legend Andres Iniesta has joined Japanese club Vissel Kobe, the J-League first-division side said in Tokyo on Thursday.

“Today is a very special day for me. This is a very important challenge for my career,” Iniesta told a packed news conference.

“I very much look forward to getting to know my teammates and playing together,” he said.

Former Barcelona captain Iniesta was introduced by the club’s owner Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder and chairman of Japanese online retailer Rakuten, which is also Barca’s main sponsor.

The 34-year-old midfielder earlier posted a picture on Instagram of himself with Mikitani on a jet plane, saying “Heading to my new home, with my friend @hiroshi.mikitani.”

Mikitani also appeared to confirm the move by posting a picture of himself outside the jet with Iniesta, and writing, “Going back to Tokyo with my friend.”

The 34-year-old midfielder joined Kobe who are sixth after 15 games, following the end of his 22-year term at Spanish champions Barcelona on Sunday.

Among his new team-mates is former Germany striker Lukas Podolski who went t the J-League last year from Turkish side Galatasaray. But he is out until the end of June due to a calf injury.

Iniesta won 32 titles with Barca, and his goal in the final against the Netherlands gave Spain the 2010 World Cup title, in-between trophies at Euro 2008 and 2012.

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