Spanish soccer star Iniesta to leave Vissel Kobe in summer

Spanish soccer star Andres Iniesta is expected to leave his J League club, Vissel Kobe, this summer. He is planning to explain the reason at a news conference soon.

The 39-year-old midfielder is considered an all-time great. He played for the Spanish national team at four World Cup tournaments, helping it clinch the title in South Africa in 2010.

Iniesta joined Kobe from Spanish powerhouse Barcelona in 2018. He helped the J League team win the Emperor's Cup, the club's first-ever trophy, on New Year's Day in 2020. Later that year, the club reached the final four of the AFC Champions League. In 2021, Kobe achieved its best-ever top-division finish of third.
However, 2022 saw a downturn and, after several managerial changes, Kobe turned to tactics that did not rely on Iniesta.

Iniesta lost his starting spot this season and has had much less time on the pitch. Kobe performed solidly and has been leading the top division since the opening match.

The Spanish legend is under contract with Kobe until the end of this season, but sources say he wants more playing time and has agreed to leave early.

Iniesta is said to have already informed his teammates and club staff about his decision.