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Barcelona confirm Andres Iniesta to leave club after 16 glittering seasons

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Andres Iniesta is to leave Barcelona at the end of the season, the club have confirmed.

The 33-year-old, who joined Barca as a 12-year-old, has spent his entire professional career at the Nou Camp.

Having made a first-team breakthrough in 2002, Iniesta developed into one of the greatest midfield players in world football.

He has enjoyed remarkable success with Barca, winning 31 major trophies, including eight LaLiga titles (soon to be nine) and four Champions League titles.

“This is my last season here,” he said at an emotional press conference on Friday, which was witnessed by a number of the Barca first team.

“After 22 years here, I know what it means to be a player for the best team in the world. I know the responsibility I have as the captain and the responsibility to be honest with myself and the club by bringing my time at the club to an end this season.

“If I’d imagined my how my career would end here, this is it. I leave feeling useful, feeling important, starting games and winning titles. It’s a difficult day for me. I’ve spent my whole life here.

“My whole career has been here and to say goodbye to what has become my home is complicated. But this is life.

“I wouldn’t forgive myself for living in an uncomfortable situation at the club. I don’t deserve that and the club don’t deserve it, either. That’s my decision. I wanted to make it public.”

Iniesta has made 670 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona, scoring 57 goals.

His most recent strike came in the Copa Del Rey victory over Sevilla earlier this month.

Iniesta is set to lift another trophy before he departs, with Barcelona on the verge of clinching the league title.

A World Cup and double European Championship winner with Spain, Iniesta is also expected to retire from international football at the end of Russia 2018.

It is widely expected that he will move to China to continue his club career.

Asked about his future, Iniesta added: “There are still things to be sorted. I have said I will never play against Barca, so I won’t play in Europe.

“Barca has given me everything.”

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