MX23RW : Wednesday, January 16 19:06:19

Ernesto Valverde: Andres Iniesta "cannot be replaced"

Valverde: Iniesta
© Offside
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde confesses that Andres Iniesta, who will leave Camp Nou next month after almost 22 years with the club, "cannot be replaced".

Ernesto Valverde has admitted that Andres Iniesta is irreplaceable at Camp Nou as Barcelona prepare for life without the mercurial midfielder.

Iniesta announced at an emotional press conference on Friday that this will be his last campaign in Catalonia ahead of an expected move to the Chinese Super League later this year.

Having already twice broken the club's transfer record over the past year to sign Ousmane Dembele and then Philippe Coutinho, Valverde concedes that nobody can quite match the qualities of his departing star talent.

"We had spoken before but those things are private issues between the player and the coach," he told reporters when asked about Iniesta's decision to quit. "Let's not kid ourselves, Iniesta is a player that can't be replaced.

"He is a player with characteristics that mean you can't really think about anybody else doing something similar. That's the fact. When you've got a player of that level who leaves a team you have to find other balances in the team, different ways.

"We know Barca has a very set style of football, it is very clear how we play. But what Iniesta gives you, you're not going to get from any other player."

Iniesta can win La Liga for a ninth time on Sunday if Barcelona earn a point against Deportivo La Coruna.


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Andres Iniesta in action for Barcelona in December 2016
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona19134253203343
2Atletico MadridAtletico19108127131438
3Sevilla1996431201133
4Real Madrid1910362824433
5AlavesAlaves199552219332
6Getafe197752116528
7Real Betis197572223-126
8Real Sociedad197482322125
9GironaGirona195952123-224
10Espanyol197392127-624
11Valencia1941141717023
12Levante196583035-523
13Athletic Bilbao1941052025-522
14EibarEibar195772128-722
15Leganes195771721-422
16Real Valladolid195771721-422
17Celta Vigo195683132-121
18Rayo Vallecano1954102234-1219
19Villarreal193882025-517
20Huesca1925121736-1911

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