NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINargentinaARGENTINAchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOperuPERUlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA

Iniesta: We're not losing Barça great - his legacy will shine on


Andrés Iniesta yesterday brought to mind the words of Adiós muchachos, one of the saddest of tangos: "It is my turn now, to take my leave / I must walk away from my fine group of men". He's leaving Barcelona and leaving Spanish football. He's going to China, to join either Tianjin Quanjian or Chongqing Dangdai Lifan; we don't know which yet. We don't know and, right now, we don't care. We will when he announces that decision, though, because we'll all become followers of his team, and will look out every image, every bit of footage we can of them, and him, in action. What he did categorically rule out was a move to another club in Europe. He doesn't want to play against Barça. That puts paid to talk of Manchester City, then.

A tearful Iniesta announces his summer departure.
Full screen
A tearful Iniesta announces his summer departure.RODOLFO MOLINADIARIO AS

Iniesta is leaving now because he wants to go out at the top

Given the way he played in the cup final, many have been left wondering: If he's still producing performances like that, why on earth is he going? We asked Fernando Hierro at the launch of As Arabia, and his response was that he's leaving now for that very reason: he's going out at the top, with a domestic double under his arm, having held the LaLiga trophy aloft at the Camp Nou on the final day of the season. Because if he puts it off any longer, he could be left with not quite such a perfect farewell: he doesn't want to end up as a bench-warmer, a bone of contention, a shadow of what he once was getting in the way of whoever begins to take on his midfield mantle. He'd rather not go through what Fernando Torres has.

His example will shine through in future generations

The announcement of his departure was, much like Iniesta is as a player and as a man, a sober, elegant affair. But let's not get too sad just yet: he has a few games to go at Barça (including the small matter of a Clásico) and above all, he still has a World Cup to play, one he heads into in fine nick, the conductor-in-chief of a side with a new lease of life. After that, his light will fade further into the distance, but it will still blink back at us from China until he returns, as he promised he would yesterday, to contribute in whatever way he can to his lifelong club. We're not losing him. His example, both on and off the field, has left its mark on thousands upon thousands of kids of today. His legacy will forever shine on through them.