Iniesta leaves Barcelona, says he will never play against club

Andres Iniesta helped Barcelona secure the Copa del Rey with a 5-0 win over Sevilla in Madrid last weekend. Susana Vera  Reuters

Official: Barca SuperStar To Leave

Instead, through the years, he has lost his hair, gotten married, become a father, and looked toward the future of his family by investing in a vineyard, "Bodega Iniesta", in the village where he was born.

The midfielder was in tears during the announcement, which was attended by his Barcelona team-mates. "I am very thankful to them", he said in the tearful press conference. "[My next move] will be finalised when the season ends".

"For me, Barca is the best club in the world - this club has given me everything".

Iniesta's short speech was greeted by applause and the congratulations are likely to continue on Sunday, when he can collect his ninth La Liga title.

"I want to say thank you to the club and La Masia, which made me who I am".

"There are things to talk about, things to finalise", Iniesta said.

Suarez's absence has not been explained, but it is believed that Messi had a "personal affair".

The midfielder was given a standing ovation by both sets of supporters in last week's King's Cup final against Sevilla, in which he delivered a virtuoso display and scored in Barca's 5-0 win.

But Iniesta knows it's time.

"The magic I've been through as a player is enough for me, that's what I have gained happiness from", he said.

Iniesta made his Barca debut in 2002 as an 18-year-old and has gone on and made 669 appearances and winning 31 trophies including eight La Liga titles and four Champions leagues. The team leads Atletico Madrid by 11 points with five games left. He combined the smooth dribbling skills of Ronaldinho and the precision passing of former midfield partner Xavi Hernandez. I don't want to kid anyone. And even though he is opting out of that deal, club president Josep Bartomeu said that there were no hard feelings.

However, despite rumors that he has agreed to move to the Chinese Super League, Iniesta didn't reveal his next destination, but said it will be a place outside Europe.

"He has been a key part of all the teams under all our coaches, from Rijkaard, Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, (Gerardo) "Tata" Martino, Luis Enrique and now Ernesto (Valverde)".

That is perhaps why, having announced that he intends this to be his last season with Barcelona, Iniesta has been met with such an outpouring of emotion.

The loss of Iniesta is a blow to the entire Spanish league.

He has had major success in worldwide football. He is often applauded by opposing fans when substituted on the road.

The man who is revered all over Spain after scoring the winning goal of the 2010 World Cup final joined Barcelona as a 12-year-old.

The Spain global will end his career with another league title. Barcelona need only a point against Deportivo La Coruna to be crowned champions. "I have thought my decision through for a long time".

"I will always carry Barcelona in my heart".

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