Andres Iniesta signs lifetime contract with Barcelona

The European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt in Belfast at the start of a two day fact-finding mission

FC Barcelona have announced the contract extension of one of the club's most successful players in history. Basically, it seems that Iniesta will simply remain at the club until he chooses to retire, but what control the head coach or club chiefs will have over that decision is very uncertain. On the back, it carried the number 8 and the words "A. Iniesta Per Sempre" ("A. Iniesta forever").

Now, with Andres Iniesta having extended his contract on Friday, all that is required to complete an autumn of renewal is the signature of Lionel Messi.

Iniesta caused a lot of concern at the club by suggesting that he could leave at the end of his previous contract in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais in August, but it turns out that was nothing more than a proverbial bargaining chip. The player himself was quite clear about that. I don't want to be here for the sake of being here.

Iniesta has said in the past: "If I'm not playing for Barcelona I would not be able to play against them".

Iniesta denied he was on the brink of signing a new contract last month. "Last year, it looked like I was maybe done, but this year I'm living something of a rebirth", he said. "Then we can change things, and it will be fine".

"I know my mind and body, but every player is conscious of their possibilities".

That would certainly explain the delay in getting this deal done.

The contract of Spanish midfielder with "Blaugranas" will be valid until the end of his career.

"The club want Leo to stay here and he wants to stay", said Iniesta.

"We are "More than a Club" and it is precisely because of that that we feel that it is our duty to stand by our people, under such hard circumstances as those that are being experienced right now". "It was about finding the common ground".

Iniesta, 33, has been at Barcelona since he was 12 years old, making his professional debut in 2002. In Catalonia, birthplace of romantic anarcho-nationalism and the battleground of Orwell himself, they have always been proud of sending football into battle, at least in the case of FC Barcelona.

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