Andrés Iniesta to leave Barcelona after 22 years

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"I could spend a lot of minutes talking about him, he's another part of the history of Barca in the last 15 or 20 years which would not be possible without him", Guardiola said. Dated November 1993, Iniesta would have been just nine years of age at the time.

Since 2002, Andrés Iniesta would call Barcelona home.

Andres Iniesta finally confirmed to the press yesterday about his much-speculated departure.

Andres Iniesta took two deep breaths, and then said the words that announced his story-book career at Barcelona was coming to an end.

Iniesta, a World Cup victor with Spain, won eight La Liga titles, with a ninth set to be secured in the coming weeks, alongside four Champions League wins and six Copa del Rey crowns.

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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". He is widely admired and loved by fans across the country for his winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup and his role in Spain winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

He will no doubt receive a special send off after all that he's done for the Catalan club, but newspaper Mundo Deportivo want the World Cup victor to get a special guard of honour whereby both Real and Barca players pay tribute to him on 6 May at the Nou Camp. I am a privileged man who plays football and who, sometimes, has the luck to make people happy by scoring a goal or giving a pass to help win a game. They regularly applauded him when he was substituted.

The Argentine posted on Instagram: 'Andres, thank you for all these years of football. The recognition he has had at all levels of worldwide football is not earned by chance.

Last year, Iniesta became the first player to sign a lifetime contract with Barcelona, a deal that allowed him to keep playing for the club as long as he remained fit.

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.