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Andres Iniesta has 'no regrets' about leaving Barcelona at 34 to play in Japan

The World Cup winner played against former side in a friendly and insists he is happy with his decision.

The midfielder joined J1 League side Vissel Kobe last year.
The midfielder joined J1 League side Vissel Kobe last year.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

VISSEL KOBE MIDFIELDER Andres Iniesta says he has ”no regrets” over his departure from Barcelona last May after facing his former team in a friendly.

Iniesta has been at the J.League side since 2018, when he left boyhood club Barca after a trophy-laden 16 seasons at Camp Nou.

The 35-year-old played a half as Vissel Kobe suffered a 2-0 loss to Barca in a friendly on Saturday.

Iniesta said he had no complaints about his departure from Barca, whose win marked their first of pre-season.

“No, no regrets. It’s a very strong word to label it as that,” he told reporters.

“I’ve always said it. If I had felt the desire or the strength to continue playing in Barcelona I would’ve loved to come here a year later playing for Barca against Vissel, but my moment ended.

“Now, I’m in another place enjoying it in another way. I enjoyed the game, seeing my team-mates, it makes me very happy and I have a nice memory of it.”

Japan Soccer Barcelona Iniesta embraces new Barcelona signing Frenkie de Jong. Source: Eugene Hoshiko

A second-half brace from 21-year-old forward Carles Perez saw Barcelona to their win.

Asked about facing his former club, Iniesta – who won nine La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies with Barca – said it was unusual.

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“It has been a bit strange. Instead of having them as partners, I had to face them,” he said.

“But the truth is that I enjoyed and savoured it. In general the team hasn’t performed badly. I’m happy for such a day, it’s a special day.”

Barca continue their pre-season fixture list when they take on Arsenal on 4 August ahead of their Liga opener against Athletic Club 12 days later.

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