Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta to reveal details of his departure in announcement on Friday

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Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta will formally announce his move away from the Camp Nou on Friday.

The veteran midfielder will attend a press conference after Barcelona’s training session before the La Liga clash against Deportivo La Coruna.

The event will be in presence of Iniesta’s Barca team-mates.

Iniesta has been linked to Chinese Super League club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan and official details of his move could be made soon as negotiations are underway.

The 33-year old was given time until April 30 to finalise his decision whether to stay or leave his boyhood club.

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Barcelona president on Ernesto Valverde's job security and Andres Iniesta's imminent announcement

David Cooper 27/04/2018
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Josep Bartomeu

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insists that Ernesto Valverde‘s job has not been at threat at any point this season.

Following a shock exit from the Champions League in the quarter-finals against AS Roma, many suggested that the Basque manager could be sacked in the summer, especially given his more pragmatic style of play.

However, Bartomeu says that is not the case with the Catalans on the brink of sealing a seventh La Liga title in a decade.

“That is false,” he told Cadenna Ser’s El Larguero (as reported by Marca) when asked about Valverde’s job being under threat.

“He has two years on his contract and this is his project. We are very happy with him and I speak regularly with him.

“After what he has done since the summer, no one can doubt Valverde. The Roma thing was bad for everyone but no one in the board has doubted Valverde at any moment.”

Andres Iniesta is expected to formally confirm his decision to leave Barcelona on Friday but Bartomeu wouldn’t give any indication of the player’s future.

“From 2004 until now, [Iniesta] has been the most important player we have had because he has been in every coach’s project since [Frank] Rijkaard,” he said.

“[The announcement] must be said by Iniesta. He must explain it.

“I cannot advance anything about it. We have to respect him after the career he has had here. Every parent would like to have a son like Andres.”

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Barcelona one point away from 25th La Liga triumph as they visit Deportivo

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Barcelona need only a point against Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday to confirm a domestic double and win La Liga for the third time in four years.

Andres Iniesta will be at the centre of any celebrations, with the Spaniard expected to announce his Barca departure in the coming days.

The Spaniard made an emotional exit from the victorious Copa del Rey final last weekend, bleary-eyed as he was substituted in the second half, and it will be a nostalgic occasion again when he hoists his final trophy with the club.

“The love and respect that people have for me is something I feel deep inside,” Iniesta said. “My aim now is to try to add the league to the Cup.”

It would be Iniesta’s ninth league title won with Barca, 13 years after his first, and his last might yet prove his finest, given Barca also stand five unbeaten games from becoming La Liga’s only ever invincible team.

Real Madrid could yet intervene when the ‘clasico’ comes to the Camp Nou next weekend but Deportivo would appear unlikely spoilers, sitting 18th, nine points adrift of Levante with four games left to play.

Some have suggested Clarence Seedorf’s side would even prefer to have their fate settled against Barcelona than at the home of their fiercest rivals Celta Vigo, whom they visit six days later.

“We are going to play to death to win it,” Deportivo striker Adrian Lopez said.

“We know that we face a Barca that are practically champions and I hope they come a little calmer than usual. I hope they have their heads on the World Cup.”

That may prove wishful thinking given Barca arrive on the back of arguably their best performance of the season against Sevilla and are still trying to make a statement following their Champions League loss to Roma.

Liverpool’s emphatic 5-2 win over the Italians on Tuesday has only underlined the carelessness of that defeat, while Real beating Bayern Munich to edge closer to a third consecutive European triumph makes their absence all the more galling.

Adding a 25th league crown to the Copa del Rey would go some way to softening the disappointment.

Ernesto Valverde reacts

“We have been pursuing the league since the beginning of the season,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.
“It’s something that is very hard to achieve, it’s the title that gives you most satisfaction.”

With the title, relegation and Champions League spots all-but settled, La Liga’s climax is likely to be found in the race for the Europa League where at least six teams are fighting it out for three places.

Real Betis look secure, five points clear in fifth, but only six points separate Villarreal in sixth and Celta Vigo in 10th. In between sit Sevilla, Getafe and Girona.

Sevilla will be hoping to bounce back from their hammering by Barca with a win at struggling Levante on Friday while their rivals are guaranteed to drop points, with Villarreal hosting Celta on Saturday and Getafe at home to Girona on Sunday.

“We have to work harder,” Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella said. “We have to be even more focused now to finish the league well and fight to qualify for Europe.”

Betis entertain bottom-club Malaga on Monday.

Provided by AFP Sport

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