Barcelona out to give Iniesta a fond farewell
The 34-year-old is calling time on his trophy-laden career at the Nou Camp this summer.
Ernesto Valverde has called on Barcelona to give Andres Iniesta the perfect send-off when the midfielder plays his final game for the club on Sunday.
The 34-year-old will bring the curtain down on his glittering career against Real Sociedad at the Nou Camp before moving on to pastures new this summer.
Iniesta, a European Championship and World Cup winner with Spain, has won 32 trophies during his 16-year spell in the LaLiga giants’ first team.
And Valverde wants his side to ensure Iniesta ends his time at the club on a high.
🔊 Ernesto Valverde: "We want to finish the year well against a good team. It is an important game for all blaugranas because of what Andrés Iniesta means and we want to end with a victory" #BarçaRealSociedad pic.twitter.com/aMmKU1k6gt— FC Barcelona 🏆🏆 (@FCBarcelona) May 19, 2018
“We want to finish the year well against a good team,” Valverde told a press conference streamed live on Barca’s official website.
“It is an important game for all blaugranas because of what Andres Iniesta means and we want to end with a victory.”
Iniesta’s departure will create a big hole in the LaLiga champions’ side, but Valverde is confident they can cope without him.
“We won’t get a replica of Andres Iniesta,” Valverde added.
“We have players like Denis Suarez, (Carles) Alena or (Philippe) Coutinho, who are similar but a little more attack-minded. All of us will have to make up for his absence together.”
Barca’s hopes of finishing their league campaign unbeaten blew up in smoke after suffering a 5-4 defeat at Levante in their penultimate game last week.
Despite that disappointment, Valverde has applauded his players for the season they have produced.
“I’ll give the team a good grade as it has been a long and hard campaign,” Valverde added. “We have had a good end of the season.”
🎩 Xavi takes a corner— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) May 18, 2018
✈ @Carles5puyol crashes home a header
Two years after they combined for a famous goal against Germany in the World Cup semis... they repeated the move in a #BarçaRealSociedad! 💥 pic.twitter.com/USfeYT47XX
Barca are without suspended midfielder Sergi Roberto following his sending off against Real Madrid earlier this month.
Sociedad also have farewells of their own.
Defender Carlos Martinez, like Iniesta, is leaving after Sunday’s game and captain Xabi Prieto is retiring.
Prieto said Iniesta is “without doubt” the best Spanish player he had ever faced and is looking forward to being there when his fellow 34-year-old plays his final match for Barca.
Prieto told radio station Cadena SER: “Facing him in his final farewell, is like a dream scenario, the chosen ending…
“It’s going to be nice to be able to experience Andres’ farewell at first hand. I’m sure it will be spectacular. A special evening.”
Sociedad arrive at the Nou Camp in 10th place in the table, one point behind Eibar and three adrift of Getafe.