Chinese club denies move for Barca star Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta is a player in high demand after announcing he is leaving Barcelona. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2018
0

Chinese club denies move for Barca star Andres Iniesta

  • Spanish midfielder is leaving after two decades at Barca
  • Chongqing Lifan say they are not in the running to sign 33-year-old

SHANGHAI: China’s Chongqing Lifan denied making a big-money move for Andres Iniesta as Spanish media said the Barcelona captain could now be headed for Japan or Australia.
Reports in China and Spain have linked Chongqing with the 33-year-old Spanish World Cup-winner, who is leaving Barcelona after two decades of phenomenal success.
Chongqing said Iniesta wouldn’t be joining “as a player” but left the door open to future cooperation with the midfielder, who has promotional and marketing links with the city.
Chongqing added that they wanted to support the “healthy development of Chinese football” — a reference to China’s clampdown on heavy transfer spending and focus on homegrown talent.
“Our club will never violate the development prospects of Chinese football and we are determined to make due contributions to the healthy development of Chinese football,” a statement said.
It added: “The other sports industry sections of our club’s controlling shareholder have in-depth cooperation with Mr. Iniesta in sports brokerage, sports marketing, and youth training and education.
“We don’t rule out that in the future there may be more in-depth cooperation between the two sides in the Chinese market, but this does not mean that Mr. Iniesta will join the club as a player.”
Japan’s Vissel Kobe, named in Spanish media as a possible next club for Iniesta, had no comment on Tuesday when approached by AFP.
Football Federation Australia also made no comment after Spain’s Sport website named the A-League as Iniesta’s “preferred destination.”
Chongqing, in southwest China, had emerged as a surprise contender to snare Iniesta — one of the finest midfielders of his generation — despite not being a traditional heavyweight in Chinese football.
Their only major success was the FA Cup in 2000, but Iniesta has traveled to the city of 30 million people in the past for promotional events and worked closely with the sports marketing agency Desports.
Desports was founded by Chinese businessman and Chongqing chairman Jiang Lizhang, who was said to have been spearheading attempts to lure Iniesta.
Chongqing are the second Chinese club to rule out a move for Iniesta, after Tianjin Quanjian threatened legal action to quash reports linking them with the player.
A skyrocketing series of expensive deals was brought to a halt last year when the CFA introduced a 100 percent tax on foreign transfers over 45 million yuan ($7 million), with proceeds going into a fund for youth development.


Siakam has 30 points, Raptors top Magic 98-93 for 2-1 lead

Updated 20 April 2019
0

Siakam has 30 points, Raptors top Magic 98-93 for 2-1 lead

  • Siakam was 13 for 20 from the floor
  • Raptors held Orlando to 36% shooting

ORLANDO, Florida: Pascal Siakam had 30 points and 11 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 16 points and the Toronto Raptors held off the Orlando Magic 98-93 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round series.
Siakam was 13 for 20 from the floor and the Raptors held Orlando to 36% shooting. Leonard had 10 rebounds, Danny Green had 13 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 12 points and 10 assist.
Terrence Ross led Orlando with 24 points, and Nikola Vucevic shook off a slow start to finish with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Game 4 is Sunday night in Orlando.
The Raptors trailed 61-60 midway through the third, then went on a 16-0 run over the next four minutes to take the lead for good. Siakam and Green were both 3 for 3 during the run, the Magic missed 10 consecutive shots over a span of 6 1/2 minutes and had to play uphill the rest of the way.
That being said, they went down swinging.
Lowry’s 3-pointer with 7:48 left gave Toronto its biggest lead at 86-69. The Magic came flying back, and Ross’ 3-pointer with 41 seconds left got Orlando to 96-93.
Leonard was short with a jumper on the next possession — but the Magic couldn’t control the rebound, and were doomed shortly afterward. Leonard made a pair of free throws with 12.9 seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game again, and that closed the scoring.
Orlando, which finished the regular season by winning 13 of its final 14 home games, was 13 of 44 from 3-point range.
Toronto scored the first 10 points — the last five by Siakam, who was a problem from the outset for the Magic — and led by as many as 11 in the first half.
Orlando got within one on three occasions in the first half, but never got the lead in the opening 24 minutes. Toronto took a 48-45 lead into the break after Ross beat the clock from midcourt at the buzzer.
He took off from the Magic logo and released the ball with about a half-second remaining, it hitting the square on the backboard perfectly and dropping through. Ross never broke stride, watching the ball’s flight as he ran and kept going through the tunnel leading to the Magic locker room.
TIP-INS
Raptors: Toronto had lost four consecutive Game 3s. ... Patrick McCaw (sprained right thumb) was active, but did not play. ... The Raptors are 6-1 in their last seven road games this season. ... Siakam has 73 points and 30 rebounds in the series.
Magic: Among the former Orlando players in the building were Tracy McGrady, Jameer Nelson and Horace Grant. ... Orlando missed three shots at the rim in one third-quarter possession. Vucevic missed at the rim, and Gordon couldn’t convert on two putback tries. ... Attendance was 19,367, the second-most in the Amway Center’s nine-season history.
GOVERNOR SPEAKS
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s first lady Casey DeSantis were in attendance and received Magic “46” jerseys — a nod to his being the 46th governor of the Sunshine State. The governor and Magic CEO Alex Martins spoke pregame about the hope for Orlando to get another All-Star Game soon, though all through 2022 has already been awarded to other Eastern Conference cities — and Milwaukee, another East city, has expressed interest in 2023.
UP NEXT
Game 4 is Sunday night in Orlando.