Andres Iniesta would be ‘beneficial for Chongqing’ says Chinese Super League club’s sponsor ahead of transfer
World Cup winner expected to swap Barcelona for China with confirmation of move reported to follow Copa del Rey final
Chinese state newswire Xinhua reports that Chinese Super League side Chongqing Dongdai Lifan’s main sponsor expects Barcelona and Spain star Andres Iniesta to play a vital role for the club.
SWM chairman Gong Daxing told Xinhua that “Iniesta’s arrival would be beneficial for Chongqing, and a great bonus for our brand as well.”
This comes on the back of Chinese broadcaster PPTV announcing that Iniesta will sign for Chongqing and that the move will be confirmed next week.
Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri tweeted that Iniesta will be paid €37 million (US$45.6 million) per year, while others report that he will sign a three-year deal.
The club, referred to in some quarters as Chongqing SWM this season, are owned by billionaire Jiang Lizhang who also has interests in Spanish side Granada, Italian club Parma and the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA.
Iniesta visited Chongqing last summer as a guest of club chairman Jiang, whose Desports agency counts the midfielder as a client. A video of Jiang being interviewed by a Chinese football media outlet has been shared on Chinese social media in which he confirms that business relationship but refuses to comment on the transfer.
Xinhua report that the club, who sit fourth in the CSL table, are yet to comment.
According to the reports in Spain and the sources in China, it is not far from confirming that Andres Iniesta will join the CSL side Chongqing Lifan owned by Desports (also the owner of Granada CF in Segunda B). Andres Iniesta has been a business client of Desports for some time. pic.twitter.com/olltvsPfgz
— Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) 20 April 2018
Any deal for Iniesta is reported to hinge on his family’s wine business, Bodega Iniesta, with many outlets reporting that a move to China is in large part to expand sales in China, fuelled by the fact that the company website has a Chinese-language version.
Spanish newspaper AS reported that Iniesta is expected to announce his future after Barcelona contest the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla in Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday evening (3.30am kick off Sunday morning Hong Kong time). It is widely expected he will move to China after 20 years at the Catalan club and Chongqing has emerged as the likely destination.
Reports from Spanish media this week suggested that Iniesta’s move to China was as good as done, according to his lawyer, despite not confirming a specific club.
The World Cup winner had been linked with the Chongqing outfit as well as Tianjin Quanjian and Hebei China Fortune FC, where he could link up with former Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano.
The Tianjin club threatened to sue media outlets who linked the 33-year-old with a move there.
Meanwhile, Mascherano apparently wants to leave Hebei China Fortune FC.
The Argentine only joined the Chinese Super League side at the start of the season but reports back home have linked him with a return to River Plate at the end of the CSL season when he can exercise an option to leave. River could face competition from Rosario Central. Hebei teammate wants him to join him at the club where he will reportedly go after his brother takes over as president.