Exclusive Iniesta interview: Life in Japan, Pep's No.2, Champions League

The ex-Barcelona midfielder covered a number of issues in this interview with Jordi Gil


 El centrocampista valoró en exclusiva para SPORT el rendimiento del Barça en Europa | Jordi Gil

Andres Iniesta kicked off 2019 by speaking exclusively with Diario Sport about all things Barcelona... 

Jordi Gil


Denis Suarez tried to do what you did, waiting despite playing, but it's not worked out. That idea of persisting doesn't always work at Camp Nou... 

There can be other circumstances which push you to another decision. You give your time, try to stay, but sometimes it doesn't work out for whatever reason. That takes you to another decision. 

What do you think about Aleñá and Riqui Puig exciting more than the signings?

It's great news that players form the academy can have chances and play a role. We identify ourselves with the players that spent a lot of time in the academy, those of us that are from here. Getting to the first team is like a dream. If they manage it, the important thing is knowing how to take advantage of each opportunity, training well and learing alongside the best. 

People talk about the Pep Team managing the club and being presidents... Can you see it?

It's a nice idea. The future will reveal where we all have to be... We have the affection of the fans because we spent a lot of time here. In my case, I would like to add what I have learned and been shown. I don't know in what capacity, if I will be ready, who will be at the club... It's all hypothesis. We will see.

Could you see yourself as Pep Guardiola's No.2 one day?

It's not a question of if I can see it or not, the truth is that I have not thought about it. I don't know what will happen in the next few years. For now, I am focused on being a footballer in another country, playing in another championship. When that is no longer the case, you think about about other things. 

Talking about the current Barça -- can they win the Champions League?

I always think they can. They're ambitious and with aspirations to win everything. After that, there are moments when things can go better or worse. This team deserves more Champions Leagues than they have won. I hope this season they take the step forward which has been lacking in recent years. 

Do you think it's strange Madrid have won so many?

I always think that the champions are worthy winners. We can like or not like a way of doing things, but to say a team doesn't deserve to win such an important competition is complicated. We've lacked a little to be closer in previous campaigns and I am confident that this time it will be different. 

Could Man City or PSG win it? 

It's difficult to think that some day they won't come close in the Champions Leagues. They teams they have, their squads, the investments, the coaches... they should be fighting for the trophy. I always want to add Liveprool, who are looking good this year. The problem with the Champions League is that it's a really tough tournament. One bad day can knock you out. 

How do you assess Lionel Messi as you replacement as captain?

I don't think it's anything new for him. He's been here a long time.... The armband is just an added motivation. 

Despite the distance, you seem happy in Japan...

That's what you're always looking for, yo be happy. We're doing well. There have been some intense months of adaption, of getting familiar with things, getting to know everything... The kids are also adapting, my wife... it's all good. 

It seems like a competitive league?

I've been surprised in a good way. The level of fitness and of play is important, it makes you 100 percent. It's something I wanted when I left Barça. Now I am keen for the new season to start and to do things wekk. 

Have you noticed the impact you've had there?

Honestly, yes. The people have welcomed us really well, they treat us phenomenally. You notice when you're there, on the pitches, on and off. 

Do you're Vissel Kobe teammates look at you as a professor?

They look at me in a different way. I've come from outside and they all follow the big leagues and the big teams. In terms of my career, I've played for big teams. They're delighted with me and me with them. 



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