Five times Ballon d’Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have properly enjoyed the paparazzi and dominated the headlines for the past decades, leaving Barcelona‘s influential playmaker Andres Iniesta‘s sustained splendor to go under the radar to some degree.
The word legend completely applies to Iniesta, who will head far from the Nou Camp subsequent to winning 32 trophies in an awesome 700 caps, having first joined the club over two decades prior at the age of 12.
Iniesta is more than plain statistics, however, the Spaniard is more than just a player because of what he represents: His style of play, alongside Xavi and Messi, embodied with the silky smooth passing carousel – to take Sir Alex Ferguson’s expression – which enchanted the world and won two Champions League titles under Pep Guardiola in 2009 and 2011.
That team has been bit by bit separating, season after season, Eric Abidal left in 2013, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes in 2014, Xavi in 2015, Dani Alves in 2016, and now Iniesta, leaving Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Gerard Pique as the only remaining players of perhaps the greatest team in Barcelona’s history.
Iniesta is more than just a player, Leaving Camp Nou is something beyond the typical end-of-season squad reshaping. For the beautiful game lovers, Iniesta means more than just a midfielder who passed and dribbled the ball with uncommon brightness. Iniesta is a bright definition of ” The Beauty Of Football“.
Iniesta isn’t just a Barcelona legend: he is also a national hero. He is a unique player among Barca players in getting a warm welcome wherever he goes in Spain, even being given an overwhelming applause from Real Madrid fans subsequent to netting a sizzling strike in a 4-0 triumph at the Bernabeu in November 2015.
Notwithstanding, there is no doubt that the Spanish midfielder is a role model to any aspiring playmaker. Much like Xavi Hernández before him, his technicalities, vision, and ability to dictate the pace of a game has been reliably perceived by probably the most prominent names in the game.
Following the news that the 33-year-old will leave Barcelona towards the end of the season, with China his presumable next stop to see out the final years of his career. And his departure from La Liga is in this way inciting a surprising and unashamed overflowing of emotion from lots of footballers
“Andres and I are similar in that we both use our bodies a lot, to avoid opponents. But he has something that always amazes me. There’s always a moment when you think you’re going to catch him when you think you’re going to get the ball off him, but you can’t. He’s not especially quick, but he has that ability to always get away from you, which comes from his technique.”
“Iniesta is easily Spain’s most complete player. He has everything. Playing alongside him is very easy”
“The press often ask me whether Messi or Ronaldo is the best, but for me, something is very clear: Andres Iniesta is the number one. He is able to do even more difficult things on the pitch. He is magic with the ball and so influential.”
Vicente Del Bosque
“He is the complete footballer. He can attack and defend, he creates and scores.”
“He’s creative, he runs with the ball, he’s got a brilliant final pass and with each passing year, he’s become more of a goalscorer as well as a provider. He’s a source of immense confidence for us. During matches, you can see him taking on more and more responsibility and in the attack, he’s the team’s reference point.”
International caps: 125 appearances, 13 goals
UEFA club competition: 138 appearances, 11 goals
Domestic competition: 525 appearances, 46 goals
UEFA Champions League (4): 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015
UEFA Super Cup (2): 2011, 2015
FIFA Club World Cup (3): 2009, 2011, 2015
Spanish Liga (8): 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016
Copa del Rey (6): 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Spanish Super Cup (6): 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016
FIFA World Cup (1): 2010
UEFA EURO (2): 2008, 2012
U19 EURO (1): 2002
U16 EURO (1): 2001
UEFA Best Player in Europe (1):2012
UEFA EURO Player of the Tournament (1): 2012
UEFA.com Fans’ Team of the Year (6): 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016
“Iniesta is a great player. If people compare me to him, that makes me proud. He is one of the best midfielders in the history of football. I like playing against him. I admire him as a player and an athlete.”
“Iniesta doesn’t dye his hair, he doesn’t wear earrings and he hasn’t got any tattoos. Maybe that makes him unattractive to the media, but he is the best.”
“When he has the ball, it’s like everything else stops – like the camera is going in slow motion.”
“When I see him play these days, he reminds me of Xavi. He was always a top-quality player. He started very young with us, and it’s crazy to see how he has gone on to make so much history.”
“Iniesta is the boyfriend that every mother wants her daughter to have. The figures over his career tell you all you need to know. He is a magical player. There are few players in the world that can compare to him.”
It will be interestingly strange to see Iniesta donning anything different from Barcelona colors, and some are stating it’s too early for him to leave– particularly after his scintillating match performance against Sevilla in Copa del Rey’s final.
However, an artist should never exceed his welcome or fail out in unremarkableness. An artist like Andres Iniesta, should just one day leave and make the footballing world to recall the remarkable memories he once gave the beautiful game lovers. Since those awesome memories endure till forever, much the same as his outstanding legacy.
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.