Andres Iniesta has revealed he is yet to sign a new contract at Barcelona and has hinted that he could leave the club on a free when his current deal expires next summer.
Barcelona are reeling after the world record sale of Neymar and a heavy defeat to arch rivals Real Madrid in last week’s Super Copa.
Now they risk losing not one, but two of the stalwarts who have been at the heart of the club’s success over the last decade with star forward Lionel Messi also yet to sign a new deal.
“I have not renewed yet,” Iniesta, 33, said in an interview with El Pais.
“I have experienced many feelings that I haven’t before, but I think that’s normal.
“It is a scenario that I would never have imagined three years ago… Let’s say I now think about the future when I did not before.”
Iniesta, the club captain, also hinted that he has been slightly disappointed at his treatment.
“We all like to be appreciated, valued and respected,” he added.
“I have always felt the affection and respect of everyone here, of that I have no doubt.
“But I am also clear that in this club you can never lose respect for people who have given their lives for these colours.
“It should not be lost but sometimes it feels like it is.”
Barça fans have been unhappy with the club’s transfer dealings over summer and there have been growing calls for president Josep Maria Bartomeu to stand down.
While admitting the defeat to Real Madrid was “painful”, Iniesta said the club must stick to its principles as it seeks to regain ground on its rivals and must not rush into the transfer market.
“Playing a Champions League final with eight or nine academy graduates… it’s not that Barça does not do it but nobody does,” added Iniesta, who has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues since graduating from the club’s La Masia academy.
“Sometimes people forget that because it seemed to be easy to achieve but it is quite the opposite – it’s very complicated.
“But the club cannot change. We must have courage and not lose faith or trust in the youngsters who have been raised here. Sometimes it is better to bet on those from within and not resort to a market that has become so heavily inflated.”
But with the latest generation of La Masia graduates looking unlikely to fill the boots of the likes of Iniesta, Messi, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and the already departed Xavi Hernandez the club may well have to look elsewhere.
Iniesta’s departure – which could be sealed by a Bosman deal in January – could see Barcelona step up its efforts for Reds playmaker Philippe Coutinho who has already been the subject of three rejected bids this summer.
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