Friday, 20 December 2013
Football. Iniesta's new €14m Barca deal finally ends Madrid dream
Andres Iniesta wll become Barcelona's highest earner after Lionel Messi when he pens his new contract agreement next week, in a deal which finally ends Real Madrid's long-standing interest in signing the Spain star.
Barca president Sandro Rosell announced on Thursday that Iniesta had reached a verbal agreement to extend his current contract to 2018 and the midfielder will be paid in the region of €14m per annum for the next four years, almost double what he earns at the moment.
By that time, Spain's 2010 World Cup hero will be 34 and Rosell revealed further extensions would be based on playing time.
"I can confirm that Iniesta is to renew [his contract]," Rosell said on Thursday. "Nothing has been signed yet but we have agreed it verbally and it will probably be signed on Monday.
"We are very happy about his renewal - I think it is a great Christmas present for all Barcelona fans."
Iniesta is adored by Barca fans and has won numerous trophies with the Catalan club, including six Liga titles, three Champions League crowns, two Copas del Rey and two Club World Cups.
The midfielder, who turns 30 in May, hails from the village of Fuentealbilla in the Albacete province and once admitted to supporting the club's fierce rivals Real Madrid as a young boy.
Madrid have long been keen to recruit the 29-year-old, believing the Spain midfielder may be tempted to cross the Clasico divide.
President Florentino Perez considered a move for Iniesta in 2009 on his return to the capital club and has been watching with interest this term as the fans' favourite has been in and out of the side at Camp Nou.
But Iniesta has been at Barca since the age of 12 and his affinity with the Catalan club runs deep. He told TV3 last year: "I feel Spanish, but I also feel Catalan - I have spent a big part of my life in Catalunya and the people have embraced me. Some may not like to hear that, but it's the truth. Catalunya is very special to me."
Iniesta invited a journalist into his home for filming of the television show El Convidat, which features a famous person and their abode in every episode. And Andres left viewers in no doubt of his passion for the Catalan club, with a club crest engraved aboved the staircase in his family house in Fuentealbilla, along with numerous photos and trophies.
The midfielder, who made his Barca debut under Louis van Gaal in 2002, has played 479 competitive games for the Blaugrana, scoring 48 goals.