Andres Iniesta has confirmed there’s been no progress in his contract talks with Barcelona, but admits he has been heartened by the team’s promising start to the season.
The veteran midfielder, whose current deal expires at the end of this season, hit the headlines last week when club president Josep Maria Bartomeu claimed a new contract has been agreed in principle, only for Iniesta to immediately state that was not true.
And after delivering an eye-catching personal performance in Tuesday’s 3-0 Champions League victory over Juventus, including an inch-perfect pass to tee up Lionel Messi’s second goal, Iniesta revealed there has been no progress in his talks with the club.
“There’s no news, and if there was you would know about it,” sniffed the club captain, who appears to be less than happy that his contract talks have been given such prominence.
“But what bothers me is what happens on the pitch. I want to be happy and for things to go well. I put collective the above the personal, and I’m happy with how everything is going.”
Iniesta can certainly have no complaints about his team’s current form, with the 3-0 win against Juventus extending Barca’s winning streak to four games, during which time they have scored 12 goals without conceding any.
After an inconsistent season under former boss Luis Enrique and a frustrating summer in the transfer market, there’s a growing sense that new manager Ernesto Valverde is starting to take his team in the right direction.
And Iniesta agreed with the sentiment that Barca are gradually re-establishing themselves as a major force to be reckoned with, suggesting that Valverde is succeeding in implementing an effective team structure as he said: “If the team is functioning well, we all look better.
“Starting to win against opponents like Juventus is not easy. We controlled the game well – they had few chances and we completed a very good game.”
The skipper’s words were echoed by Jordi Alba, whose rampaging running down the left wing has been a feature of Barca’s performances in the opening weeks of the campaign.
Alba fell out of favour for stretches of last season under former boss Luis Enrique, but his newly restated importance to the team is shown by the fact that he had more touches of the ball than any other player in the victory over Juventus.
And the Spain international, who has clearly held off Lucas Digne for the role of Valverde’s preferred left-back, expressed the sense that his teammates are once again enjoying themselves on the field of play, noting: “You have to suffer to win games like that, but we are having fun.
Alba also believes new signings Nelson Semedo and Ousmane Dembele have given the team a timely boost, saying: “The majority of us are the same players as last season, but the new arrivals have been a plus.”
And he praised the whole team for their excellent defensive record, saying: “It’s not just the defenders, everyone is working hard.”