MX23RW : Monday, October 22 10:42:19

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
1Barcelona953123111218
2Espanyol9522137617
3AlavesAlaves9522128417
4Sevilla95132012816
5Atletico MadridAtletico944194516
6Real Valladolid943286215
7Real Madrid9423139414
8Levante94141415-113
9Getafe933388012
10Real Betis933357-212
11Real Sociedad83231211111
12EibarEibar9324912-311
13Celta Vigo92431313010
14Valencia917178-110
15Villarreal923467-19
16GironaGirona82331013-39
17Athletic Bilbao8152913-48
18Leganes9225813-58
19Rayo Vallecano8125817-95
20Huesca9126720-135

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