Andres Iniesta has ‘big goals’ after extending career with Vissel Kobe-Sports News , Technomiz

Andres Iniesta has ‘big goals’ after extending career with Vissel Kobe-Sports News , Technomiz

Iniesta helped Kobe, currently fifth in the 20-team J-League, reach the semi-finals of last year’s Asian Champions League.

J-League: Andres Iniesta has 'big goals' after extending career with Vissel Kobe

File image of Andres Iniesta. AFP

Spanish football legend Andres Iniesta said Friday he wants to “achieve big goals” with Japan’s Vissel Kobe after signing a two-year contract extension.

The former Barcelona maestro, who has battled back to action after a serious thigh injury, inked the two-year deal on Tuesday, his 37th birthday.

“What drives me is that I am motivated to work with Vissel Kobe to achieve big goals,” he told an online press conference.

“I want to be the one to decide when I will retire. I do not want injuries to force me into retirement.”

The World Cup-winning midfielder joined Kobe in 2018 in a deal worth a reported $30 million a year.

He helped Kobe, currently fifth in the 20-team J-League, reach the semi-finals of last year’s Asian Champions League.

Iniesta, named Kobe’s captain in April 2019, was sidelined for several months after he ruptured a tendon in his right thigh last December.

Following surgery in Barcelona, he was back training in April before returning to action in the J-League this month.

Iniesta said he aims “to bring my whole body and my game intuition to the top level and be ready to fight”.

“I am happy with where I am at as far as my condition is concerned… but I am still on my way towards reaching my top condition,” he said.

After his arrival in Japan, Iniesta led Kobe to its first trophy – the Japanese Super Cup title in 2020.

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“This is a sign that our project is going in the right direction. What’s important is that we will always achieve this high quality of work as a club,” he said.

Iniesta has enjoyed huge popularity in Japan, with analysts estimating he has generated more than $100 million in ticket sales and merchandising revenue.

He has appeared in TV commercials for Japanese sake and mobile phone services.

Kobe’s tech-billionaire owner, Hiroshi Mikitani, has said Iniesta’s presence in Japan has helped improve the quality of the entire J-League.

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