March 15, 2017
Barcelona are reportedly keen for Andres Iniesta to oversee the club’s La Masia academy once he’s retired from playing.
According to Marca, the club are close to agreeing a two-year contract extension with their legendary midfielder “with the idea being that it will be announced before June 30.”
As part of the fresh terms, Iniesta will reportedly be fast-tracked into running the youth structure at the club once he hangs up his boots.
“The board of directors have made their intentions clear; they count on him and see him leading the academy project in future,” the report continued. “Barcelona will continue to rely heavily on their youngsters in the coming years, creating a very particular model of player, both in a sporting sense as well as personal.”
Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images
Having spent more than 20 years at Barcelona, Iniesta is an example of what the La Masia system can produce.
Not only is the 32-year-old a wonderful footballer with unrivalled technical gifts, he’s also a proven winner, having lifted silverware with the Blaugrana and the Spanish national team.
Per beIN Sports, ahead of Barcelona’s second leg against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League, in which the La Liga side dramatically recovered from a 4-0 deficit to progress to the quarter-finals, the club displayed that steely mentality:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
Andres Iniesta has a warning for Paris Saint-Germain… https://t.co/hB5axHZ05D
3/8/2017, 6:23:01 PM
With those attributes considered alongside his football journey, Iniesta feels like the perfect figurehead for the academy system.
Iniesta joined the Barca youth setup in 1996 and eventually made his debut for the senior side in 2002. Since then, he’s established himself not only as a linchpin in the Blaugrana team, but as one of the finest midfielders to ever grace the game.
VALERY HACHE/Getty Images
He’s one of the most decorated, too. Eight La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League wins, a FIFA World Cup and two UEFA European Championship crowns, to name but a few, is quite a haul of major honours.
There’s a love for the football club that bristles in his play. As sports journalist Rafael Hernandez noted recently, even when he’s not on form, Iniesta puts it all on the line for the Barcelona cause:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
Iniesta didn’t have his best match but his recoveries and blocks were vital. Sacrificed tonight, did his part.
3/8/2017, 9:59:54 PM
Additionally, there’s still plenty for Iniesta to offer on the field. While there’s no denying he’s approaching the twilight of his career and that the Camp Nou club do depend heavily on Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar now, Barcelona are at their best when the veteran midfielder is orchestrating their attacking play.
It’ll be a sad day when Iniesta does decide to wrap up his playing career. Although Barcelona fans would take comfort in knowing that a man so steeped in the club’s history and traditions is helping to guide the next generation.