Confusion has emerged regarding recent reports that Barcelona legend Andrés Iniesta is set to sign for Japanese club Vissel Kobe.
The Spaniard, who recently left Barcelona after 22 years with the Catalan giants, had been expected to move to the Chinese Super League (CSL) before reports on Monday linked the 2010 World Cup winner with a three-year move to the J1 League side.
Iniesta was heavily linked with a move to CSL side Chongqing Dandgai Lifan, with the move (which included an investment in the player’s wine business) looking all but publicly announced, but there have since been new twists to the saga.
A spokesman for the Vissel Kobe said he was ‘surprised’ to hear of the Iniesta rumours and said that, although he was unaware of negotiations, he could not rule them out.
The transfer is said to have been organised by Hiroshi Mikitani, the president of Rakuten, who are club sponsors of Barcelona and have their company name on the front of Barça shirts.
Rakuten have also owned Vissel Kobe since December 2014, when they purchased the club from the Crimson group.
A spokesperson for Rakuten said that the company ‘cannot comment’ on Iniesta’s potential move.
Cadena SER have reported that Iniesta will earn £66m over the course of a three-year deal with Vissel Kobe – whose current first team captain is another World Cup winner in Lukas Podolski. The club currently sit 10th in the J1 League after 13 games.
The capture of Andrés Iniesta would be a major coup for the club, who finished ninth in Japan’s highest domestic league last season.
In addition to the links with China and Japan, there were also claims that 33-year-old Iniesta could have reunited with former boss Pep Guardiola by signing for Premier League champions Manchester City.