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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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CBarcelona38289199297093
2Atletico MadridAtletico382310558223679
3Real Madrid382210694445076
4Valencia38227965382773
5Villarreal38187135750761
6Real Betis38186146061-160
7Sevilla38177144958-958
8Getafe381510134233955
9EibarEibar38149154450-651
10GironaGirona38149155059-951
11Espanyol381213133642-649
12Real Sociedad38147176659749
13Celta Vigo381310155960-149
14AlavesAlaves38152214050-1047
15Levante381113144458-1446
16Athletic Bilbao381013154149-843
17Leganes38127193451-1743
RDeportivo La CorunaDeportivo38611213876-3829
RLas PalmasLas Palmas3857262474-5022
RMalaga3855282461-3720

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