- Andres Iniesta decided to move from Spanish La Liga to J-League on Thursday.
- The Spaniard signed for Vissel Kobe which is owned by Rakuten CEO
- Iniesta will play alongside Lukas Podolski
Andres Iniesta, the 34-year old Spanish midfielder who is regarded as the poster boy of FC Barcelona made a sensational move to Japan's top division football series J-League on May 24. Iniesta agreed on a three-year deal with the Japanese club Vissel Kobe for a reported annual salary of $30 million, comfortably a J-League record.
After joining Barcelona at the age of 12, Iniesta lifted 32 major trophies and made 674 appearances for the Catalan giants. Andres Iniesta's decision to join J-League came as a surprise as many top players are now moving to Major League Soccer or cash-rich Chinese clubs in the twilight of their careers.
Iniesta has been awarded trademark number eight shirt by Vissel Kobe. The club plans to become the champions of the J-League with him on board. IBTimes, India has compiled top five interesting and lesser known facts about the Spanish legend's new destination.
Rakuten connection - Rakuten is a Japanese electronic commerce and Internet company based in Tokyo. They are the current jersey sponsors of Barcelona. Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Rakuten, is also the chairman of Vissel Kobe.
To play with Podolski - Andres Iniesta will be in charge of Vissel Kobe's midfield and he will be providing assists to none other than Lukas Podolski. The 32-year-old German forward completed a move from Galatasaray last summer. Former Arsenal striker was quick to send a "welcome" tweet to Iniesta on Thursday.
The name Vissel Kobe - The club was founded in 1966 and it is currently based out of the western port city of Kobe. Vissel is a combination of the words 'victory' and 'vessel', in recognition of Kobe's history as a port city.
Currently at six - Vissel Kobe currently sit sixth in the J-League first division standings after 15 games. The club has won six matches, lost five and drawn four matches this season. Sanfrecce Hiroshima, the J-league leaders has 15 points advantage over Vissel Kobe.
Thai Premier League connection - Vissel Kobe has signed a partnership agreement with Thai Premier League team Chonburi FC. The agreement allows for senior and junior coach exchange while the marketing partnership hopes to help raise the profiles of both clubs.