Andres Iniesta is taking his soccer and wine-making talents to the Land of the Rising Sun.
The FC Barcelona midfielder has agreed to join Vissel Kobe next season on a three-year contract, Spanish radio station Cadena SER reported Tuesday. The Japanese club reportedly will pay him €25 million per season under terms of the deal, which Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Barcelona’s and Vissel Kobe’s main sponsor, Rakuten, personally negotiated with the legendary player.
In addition to playing, Iniesta’s mission at Vissel Kobe will including improving the club’s youth development system. His exact role in that effort is unclear but it might include coaching players or training Vissel Kobe coaches in Barcelona’s methods.
His Vissel Kobe contract also includes a tie-in with his wine company, Bodega Iniesta, but Cadena SER’s report didn’t report details on the business partnership.
Iniesta joined Barcelona as a 12-year-old and made his first-team debut in 2002 at age 18. He helped the club win eight La Liga (Spanish league) titles, seven Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) titles, and for UEFA Champions League titles. He also helped Spain win the 2010 FIFA World Cup and European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
The 33-year-old tearfully announced last month he’ll leave Barcelona after this season. He was expected to join a team in China but has surprised the soccer world by heading to Vissel Kobe.
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