New York City FC will not have given up hope on signing Barcelona Andres Iniesta just yet, with Spanish outlet Don Balon claiming the midfielder has rejected an offer from the Chinese Super League worth £28 million per season ($35 million).
Iniesta has just over a year remaining on his current Barca contract. The club’s sporting director Robert Fernandez has claimed the World Cup winner will renew with the club he has spent his entire career at but he has yet to put pen to paper.
“He will renew at the moment he chooses,” Fernandez said. “Andres deserves the best. He grew here as a player and he’s given everything for the club. I can’t imagine a Barcelona without him and he can’t either.”
Fernandez is right. It is tough to imagine Barcelona without Iniesta and while it looks likely he will see out his illustrious career with the Blaugrana, there is still a chance that he could be tempted to finish his playing career in MLS alongside his former club and Spanish teammate David Villa.
Rejecting a big-money offer from China suggests the eight-time La Liga champion is not solely interested in securing a big pay packet before hanging up his boots. NYCFC have reportedly offered Iniesta a ‘blank cheque’ when it comes to any possible contract negotiations but they can offer more than just money, with David Villa likely to be the deal breaker if he does indeed make the move stateside.
The 2016 MLS MVP has previously encouraged his former teammate to “share the American experience” with him in New York City, although Villa will be 36 by the time Iniesta’s contract expires at Barcelona and surely in one of his final seasons himself.
The catch here is that the only way it seems Iniesta joins NYCFC is if Andrea Pirlo hangs his own boots up at the end of the year. The Italian maestro will turn 38 in May and only has nine months remaining on his current MLS deal – while the same applies for Villa.
It’s quite feasible to assume Pirlo will retire at the end of the year, leaving NYCFC with a free Designated Player slot as well as a healthy amount of money to spend on wages for a direct replacement. That replacement could then be Iniesta.
Nothing is set in stone at this stage, but the Barca star will have to adapt to life under a new head coach once Luis Enrique departs this summer. He’s also only played 791 minutes in La Liga this season and is on track to play fewer league games than in any of the previous 12 seasons, proving that his role is shifting as his age becomes a factor.
The NYCFC door appears to be open, it’s just a question of if that door is more appealing than a new Barca contract for Iniesta.
Do you think we’ll ever see Iniesta playing in MLS? Or will he remain with Barcelona for the rest of his career?