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Iniesta has been Barcelona's most important player, says club chief Bartomeu

30 April 2018, 03:43 | Percy Christensen

GETTY Andres Iniesta looks set to leave Barcelona this summer

Andres Iniesta

Lionel Messi was absent from long-time teammate Andres Iniesta's farewell press conference at the Ciutat Esportiva on Friday afternoon due to an "unmissable appointment", according to reports in Spain.

Having made his debut with the first team in the 2002-03 season, Iniesta has written himself into Barca folklore and will go down among their finest players ever.

Iniesta won three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns under Guardiola's guidance and he hopes his departure does not spell the end of his Barca career.

"My admiration is not only in the field, I admire you for the great person you are and could know". I have always made it clear to the club I wanted to control my "stages" in life and to be as honest as possible with myself and the club.

Spain greats Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Fernando Torres also expressed their admiration for Iniesta, while Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino - the former coach of Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol - added: "We were enemies for a while". And even though he is opting out of that deal, club president Josep Bartomeu said that there were no hard feelings.

Iniesta is still playing regularly for the La Liga outfit.

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Iniesta has shown this season that he is still able to perform at a top level.

Iniesta was also the main protagonist of the golden age of the Spanish team winning two Euro Cups (2008 and 2012) and one World Cup (2010). He has been a first-choice player for Valverde and was still its most decisive attacking midfielder. He is often applauded by opposing fans when substituted on the road.

"On the pitch I like him to be near me, particularly when a game takes a turn for the worse, when things get hard". The recognition he has had at all levels of worldwide football is not earned by chance.

"To all Cules, who have seen me grown as a player, and accompanied me in the good and bad times, thank you".

Interest from the Chinese Super League and the Major League Soccer has intensified in recent weeks as speculation mounted on the diminutive midfielder's future and he is likely to end up either in China or America.

"I will take your love with me in my heart".

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