Andres Iniesta has ended speculation over his future by agreeing a new Barcelona contract tying him to the Catalan club until 2018.
Talks between the club and Iniesta’s representatives had dragged on over recent months, with both sides always saying they were confident of a deal, but issues emerged in the media including apparent concerns over changes to the Blaugrana outfit’s medical staff and supposed disruption of the club’s salary scale caused by Neymar’s signing last summer.
The uncertainty led to speculation that Premier League sides Manchester United and Manchester City hoped to take advantage by making huge offers to tempt the 29-year-old midfielder to England.
Such an outcome was unlikely and Iniesta, who joined Barca’s La Masia youth academy when he was 12, is now set to take his time at the Camp Nou past the 20-year mark.
Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell announced the news on Thursday lunchtime. "We are very happy with his renewal,” Rosell said “I believe this is a great Christmas present for all cules.”
It was a slight surprise that the agreement was announced this week, with sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta away in Argentina visiting the recuperating Lionel Messi, although Mundo Deportivo did report this week that Rosell had personally taken charge of sealing the final deal.
Talks are continuing between Zubizarreta and defenders Marc Bartra and Martin Montoya, who are both out of contract at the end of the current season and free to talk to potential foreign suitors from Jan. 1.
The Catalan press also suggest that improved deals are currently being put together for Lionel Messi, amid allegations he is upset by Neymar’s terms, and those of Gerard Pique.
"Our door is always open for Messi," Rosell added. "He should, without a doubt, be the best paid-player in the world, because he is the best player in the world."