March 20th, 2017
FC Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has turned down a deal worth €33 million per year to play in the Chinese Super League according to Spanish outlet Don Balon. The offer would have made Iniesta one of the highest paid players in the world.
The report goes on to add that in addition to turning down the offer from Asia, Iniesta has refused to negotiate a contract extension with Barcelona, speculating that if he doesn’t find a suitable offer he may decide to retire. The 32 year old Spanish midfielder still has one more option available to him, Don Balon reported late last year that New York City FC forward and former teammate David Villa had reached out to Iniesta about making the move to MLS.
The offer from NYCFC has been in the works for several months now according to the report. General Manager Claudio Reyna and NYCFC are said to have offered Iniesta a blank check to leave the Catalan club he’s been with since 1996.
The interest for Iniesta from the New York City front office should come as a surprise to no one. Iniesta’s teammate at Barcelona and on the Spanish national team Xavi Hernandez, was long touted as NYCFC’s soon to be designated player prior to signing Andrea Pirlo. Xavi told reporters the deal was 90% done before he decided to accept an offer to play for Qatari club Al Sadd.
City Football Group is headed by Ferran Soriano who previously served as FC Barcelona’s Vice President and General Manager between 2003 and 2008 and he has made no secret of his desire to emulate FC Barcelona in his role as CEO of City Football Group. Signing Andres Iniesta to one of his clubs after losing out on Xavi Hernandez would appear to fit his modus operandi.
Andres Iniesta’s contract with Barcelona runs through the end of the 2018 season. NYCFC are currently using all three designated player spots with David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and recent arrival Maxi Moralez holding the valuable MLS roster real estate. If the reports are true, it remains to be seen when Andres Iniesta would join NYCFC. While Andrea Pirlo is flirting with the option of retirement at the end of the season, Iniesta could fill the role left by the departed Pirlo, giving Vieira’s side a much more dynamic midfield even with Iniesta approaching his mid 30’s.
Any move to join NYCFC prior to the end of his contract in the summer of 2018 would require a transfer fee, or for both clubs to work out an arrangement for Iniesta to join on a free transfer. NYCFC currently have one free international roster spot available.
Iniesta has been playing for Barcelona, but has only gone the full 90 minutes 5 times in league play. He has picked up a few injuries throughout the season. Following Lampard’s injury stricken tenure here, Iniesta’s health should be of some concern to NYCFC.