After so many days full of speculations and rumours, Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta finally signed a new contract and this time its a “Lifetime Contract“, which will keep him with the Catalan giants for “the remainder of his career”, the first Barcelona player to sign this kind of contract.
“I’ll be here while my body and my mind can keep performing,” the 33-year-old Iniesta said. “And I hope that it will be for a long time. At the end of the season we will evaluate everything together and see what is best for everyone.”
‘The Don’ signed the new contract at Camp Nou and was given a t-shirt saying “Iniesta Forever”.
There had been widespread speculation about Iniesta’s future, with the midfield maestro saying he wanted to stay with Barcelona but had also been evaluating other possibilities. Spanish media had reported that Iniesta was not pleased that the team took too long to start negotiations for his new deal.
“I need to thank the club for having the confidence to give me this type of contract,” Iniesta said. “It shows that they have confidence in me as a person as well, that’s very important. There couldn’t be a better place for me. This is my home.”
Iniesta joined La Masia, Barcelona’s youth academy at the age of 12 in 1996. He has played 639 matches for the club since making his debut with the first team in October 2002. He has scored 55 goals since then.
Only Xavi Hernandez has had more appearances, with 767. They are followed by Lionel Messi, whose streak stands at 594.
“This is a reward to a player who has been exceptional,” Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said. “He is a big reason why this club has had so much success recently. He is the player who brought balance to the team. He is an inspiration and a role model to our youngsters, not only as a player. No other player in the history of Barcelona has come up through the club like he has.”
Iniesta has captained the side since 2015 and shares the record with Argentina forward Lionel Messi for the most titles, 30, in Barcelona history.
He has won the European Championship twice with Spain and scored the extra-time winner in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands in South Africa.
Iniesta said he hasn’t given much thought about his future with the club after retiring, but said he will definitely remain closely involved with soccer.
“Right now I want to focus on enjoying my time and on taking care of myself so I can keep doing this for as long as possible,” he said. “I know that I’m running against time.”