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Football Briefs: Iniesta on way to Japanese club Vissel Kobe

May 23, 2018 16:41 IST
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Andres Iniesta

IMAGE: FC Barcelona's Andres Iniesta cries during a press conference annoucing his departure from the club. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta is on the verge of signing for Japanese top-flight side Vissel Kobe, Spanish media said on Wednesday, reporting that the former Barcelona captain will announce the move officially on Thursday.

Barcelona-based newspaper Mundo Deportivo said the midfielder, who played his final game for Barca on Sunday after a glittering 16-year career, flew to Japan on Wednesday and is expected to hold a news conference the next day.

 

Kobe are owned by Hiroshi Mikitani, who is also the chief executive of Barcelona's main sponsor Rakuten. They have never won Japan's league championship and are currently placed seventh in the J-League.

If Iniesta completes the move he will join up with former German international Lukas Podolski, who joined Kobe last year.

Barcelona and Denmark great Michael Laudrup played for Kobe for one season between 1996 and 1997, while former Barca striker Gary Lineker saw out his playing career in Japan with Nagoya Grampus.

Iniesta announced at a news conference in April that he was calling time on his long career with Barca, where he moved to aged 12 in 1996 to join the club's academy.

He lifted a ninth La Liga title on Sunday in a fitting send off at Barca's stadium, with his team mates all giving him a guard of honour and wearing his name and number eight on the back of their shirts during the title celebrations.

After signing his contract with his new club, Iniesta will join up with the Spain squad next Monday to begin preparations for the World Cup in Russia.

They will be looking to lift the trophy for a second time after Iniesta's goal in the 2010 final against the Netherlands gave them their first triumph.

Dyche will not 'overfill' Burnley squad for Europe campaign

Burnley need to carefully consider who to add to their squad ahead of their European campaign or risk upsetting the balance of the team, the Premier League club's manager Sean Dyche said.

Burnley finished seventh last season for their best top-flight finish since 1974 and ensured a return to European football after a 51-year absence.

Dyche is well aware of the need to reinforce his team for multiple competitions as the Europa League comes with the prospect of many more games should the Clarets reach the group stage.

"We have to be mindful not to overfill the club, because you lose some of the attention and detail we want to put on players, for them to continue maturing," Dyche told the Burnley Express.

"We're still working at 23 outfield players, which is quite high for us, so we don't want to overfill it, but the main thing is the quality of the players.

"There's a fine balance. I spoke to managers at bigger clubs and they had to thin down their squads. I don't think we're there yet, but you do think 'how many do we actually need?'"

Relegated West Brom appoint Li as new club chairman

West Bromwich Albion have appointed Chinese club director Li Piyue as their new chairman following their relegation from the Premier League, the club said on Tuesday.

Li's elevation to the role is part of West Brom's plans to ensure a "closer working relationship" with their controlling shareholder, Chinese businessman Guochuan Lai, as they prepare for life in the second-tier Championship.

"In other changes to the club's senior administration, chief executive Mark Jenkins has stepped down from his temporary role as a director of Albion's parent company, West Bromwich Albion Holdings Ltd," West Brom said in a statement.

West Brom, who have been owned by Lai's Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Ltd since 2016, sacked chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman after a string of poor results last season.

Pioneering Shrewsbury standing up for the fans

Absent from English football's top two tiers for nearly 30 years, it is fair to say Shrewsbury Town rarely occupy the thoughts of English football fans -- but that is about to change.

On Tuesday the club from the quaint Shropshire market town became unlikely pioneers in an increasingly vocal national campaign for a return to safe standing areas at matches.

Thanks to a crowd-funding scheme with help from the club and local sponsors, what was initially a dream for the club's 'Supporter's Parliament' became a reality as Shrewsbury unveiled 500 rail seats at its 10-year-old New Meadow stadium.

The rail seats are built by local firm Ferco who installed Scottish giants Celtic's safe standing area in 2016.

Shrewsbury are the first club in England and Wales to install rail seats which are hugely popular in Germany's Bundesliga and in the U.S.

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Source: REUTERS
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