Choosing the right moment

Iniesta is still very much part of Barça's plans.
Iniesta is still very much part of Barça's plans. / EFE
  • A look at LA Liga

  • Will Andrés Iniesta bow out leaving fans wanting more, or listen to those demanding more?

When it comes to weighing up a pass on a football pitch, Andrés Iniesta can make the calculated decision in a millisecond; ask him to weigh up his future and it takes a great deal more consideration.

Does he listen to the roars of advice from the Barcelona supporters or the whispers of financial riches from China?

It's long been assumed that he would head off towards the Far East to accept an astronomical offer to see out his twilight footballing days in the Chinese Super League but when the Camp Nou tunefully demanded that he stays, it cast serious doubt.

It did look like this was his farewell season, especially as his heir Philippe Coutinho was publicly courted in the summer and engaged in the winter.

Last season he was rarely selected in back-to-back games and nature did appear to be catching up with him. This season there has been a transformation and he starts the majority of matches on the understanding that he takes his bow with time remaining. A quick check suggests that the 77th minute seems to be the favoured time to take his applause. He's gone the full 90 minutes only three times this season in La Liga.

A year ago, those who had observed Iniesta week in and week out would have expected him to gracefully take a step backwards. He's only a couple of months younger than Fernando Torres who sadly sees out his final days as a shadow of the once great player. We all agree that Torres is ready to retire with honour or take a pay day in a less demanding league.

Julen Lopetegui, the Spain coach, speaks for us all when he said this week: “He [Iniesta] has been better than last year with more continuity.”

Iniesta will undoubtedly be leading Spain on the field in the World Cup Finals. Does he bow out at the top like his old partner Xavi Hernández?

The problem is that he's expected to give his decision by April 30th. By then the league will have been won and maybe the Copa too. The question is: does he leave with them wanting more or does he listen to the fans who are demanding more?

He has a “contract for life” at Barcelona which basically means he'll be used to market the club globally and advise the board. This was a similar arrangement to Carles Puyol who soon grew frustrated and resigned as the assistant football director.

I've been in Qatar this week where Xavi is just completing his playing career with Al Sadd and combining this with his work as an ambassador to the 2022 World Cup. He undoubtedly took the right step by using his personality abilities to influence things on and off the pitch.

As for Iniesta, it's all a bit different. When Xavi departed he left Iniesta making the music. If Iniesta goes now he leaves behind Coutinho who will undoubtedly be a great orchestrater in the near future but he's still learning how each of the sections play and come together.