Andres Iniesta has confirmed he is leaving Barcelona at the end of the season, bringing an end to 16 seasons at the club.Iniesta, who joined Barcelona as a 12-year-old in 1996, made the announcement during a special press conference Friday.
Since making his debut in 2002-03 season, the playmaker won a record 31 trophies in the most successful era at the club.
The 33-year-old is on track to win his ninth La Liga title this year as Barcelona currently hold an 11 point lead over Atletico Madrid and are 15 ahead of Real Madrid with just five games remaining.
The midfielder confirmed that the 2017-18 season would be his last, saying: “This is my last season here. I have thought my decision through for a long time.
“For me, Barca is the best club in the world – this club has given me everything.
“It’s a very difficult day for me, to be here saying goodbye when I’ve spent my whole life here at Barcelona.
“A great deal of who I am, is down to Barca and La Masia – I am very thankful to them.”
He lifted a sixth Copa del Rey title in April, receiving a standing ovation as he was substituted in what proved to be an emotional farewell for the Spanish great.
The tributes have been pouring in since then, with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu hailing him as Barcelona’s most important player of the last decade.
“From 2004 until now, he has been the most important player we have had because he has been in every coach’s project since [Frank] Rijkaard,” Bartomeu told El Larguero.
Generally considered the greatest midfielder of the modern era, Iniesta has been linked with a move to the money-spinning Chinese League.