Iniesta agrees first ‘lifetime’ contract at Barcelona
Iniesta agrees first ‘lifetime’ contract at Barcelona
“It is a way of rewarding an exceptional player,” said Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Iniesta insisted, though, that he has not planned any future role with the club beyond his playing career.
“The lifetime title doesn’t mean that I will remain here just for the sake of it. It isn’t my way of doing things,” said Iniesta.
“When I don’t have the same force or importance I have always had, things can always change.
“Today I am hugely grateful for the confidence the club has shown in me.”
Along with five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Iniesta is Barca’s most decorated player of all-time having won 30 trophies at club level, including eight La Liga and four Champions League titles.
Iniesta has also made the second highest number of appearances in a Barca shirt behind Xavi Hernandez with 639 since his debut 15 years ago.
“There is no other player in the club like him. He will be a reference for future generations,” added Bartomeu.
“I always say to the kids in the academy, to fixate on him as a player and a person.”
Born in the central Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha before joining Barca at the age of 12, Iniesta is a beloved figure across Spain as he scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final.
Normally determined to shy away from the spotlight, Iniesta repeated his call for cool heads and negotiation to prevent a spiralling political crisis over the battle for Catalan independence deepening.
Hundreds required medical attention on Sunday as voters in a referendum on independence, deemed illegal by Spain’s central government, clashed with police.
“One always tries to look at things with logic and sense. We hope that everything calms down,” he said.
However, Iniesta will not be present as Spain look to book their place in next year’s World Cup later on Friday against Alicante in Albania as he has pulled out with a hamstring strain.
Iniesta has previously tended to do his talking on the field as a fundamental figure in Barca’s most successful ever era.
Alongside long-time midfield partner Xavi for both club and country, Iniesta formed the axis of Pep Guardiola’s legendary side that won 14 trophies in four years between 2008 and 2012.
His previous contract was due to expire at the end of the season and doubts over his future were raised when he refuted Bartomeu’s claims that a deal “in principle” was in place last month.
However, he refused to rule out retiring at the end of the season should he continue to be dogged by injury.
“I will be here as long as my body, mind and all I have to give is enough,” he added.
“Right now it is difficult to imagine what I will think in May or June.”
Tying down Iniesta eases some of the pressure building on Bartomeu for his handling of both sporting and institutional matters in recent months.
However, Bartomeu is still to convince Messi, who is also out of contract at the end of the season, to sign a new five-year deal agreed back in July.
“The club want Leo to stay here and he wants to stay,” said Iniesta.
“Hopefully, this story never ends because he is unique and is indispensable for success.”
India rout Pakistan by eight wickets in Asia Cup clash
- Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan collapsing
- Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday
DUBAI: India crushed Pakistan by eight wickets in their long-awaited Asia Cup match which failed to live up to its hype in Dubai on Wednesday.
Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all out in 43.1 overs at Dubai Stadium.
Skipper Rohit Sharma then struck three sixes and six boundaries in his 39-ball 52 while fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a six and six fours in his 54-ball 46 as India romped home in 29 overs.
Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik both finished on 31 not out as India exacted some revenge for their humbling 180-run defeat against their arch-rivals in the final of the Champions Trophy in London last year -- the most recent match between the teams until Wednesday.
Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday.
Bangladesh and Afghanistan meet in Abu Dhabi in the last Group B match on Thursday, having already qualified for the second round after Sri Lanka crashed out.
The top two teams from the Super Fours will play the final in Dubai on September 28.
Once Pakistan's unpredictable batting crumbled, Wednesday's match turned into a damp squib for a near-capacity crowd comprising of Indian and Pakistani expats living in the United Arab Emirates.
Kumar ran through the top order by dismissing openers Imam-ul-Haq (two) and Fakhar Zaman (nought) inside five overs, before Babar Azam (47) and Shoaib Malik (43) rebuilt the innings during their 82-run stand for the third wicket.
But after Azam was dismissed in the 22nd over, bowled by left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, Pakistan lost their last seven wickets for 77 runs.
Azam hit six boundaries in his 62-ball knock while Malik, dropped on 26 by MS Dhoni off Hardik Pandya, cracked one six and one four in a vigilant innings which lasted 67 balls.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (six) became Jadhav's first wicket, holing out to long-on where substitute fielder Maneesh Pandey completed a brilliant catch, throwing the ball back into the field to avoid running over the rope and completing the catch.
But it was Malik's run out which derailed Pakistan, sent back by Asif Ali after setting off for a quick single.
Paceman Jasprit Bumrah took 2-23 but India lost all-rounder Hardik Pandya to injury.
Bowling his fifth over, Pandya fell in his follow through and was stretchered off with a lower back injury, the extent of which was being assessed by the India team's medical staff.