The Andres Iniesta era at Barcelona is set to come to an end.
The midfield maestro and club captain announced Friday morning that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season. It ends a run of 22 years with the club, first as a youth player after he joined from Albacete and then the last 16 years in the first team, where he grew to be arguably the best midfielder in the world during his prime.
The soon-to-be 34-year-old has played a smaller role for Barcelona this season, being subbed off 19 times in 21 starts as his age has started to show. It’s been sad to see a decline of a career that’s delivered delight and great memories to Barcelona fans, Spain National Team fans, and overall just fans of free-flowing soccer and the beautiful game.
Iniesta has been rumored to be considering a contract offer from either a club in China or one in either Qatar or the United Arab Emirates. Iniesta’s former midfield partner Xavi played for Al-Sadd in Qatar after leaving Barcelona, while Javier Mascherano left the Blaugrana in January for China.
It’s the continuation of the end of an era for Barcelona, where during Pep Guardiola‘s reign (2008-2012), the club were by far the best in the world, winning the UEFA Champions League twice, three La Liga titles, and two FIFA Club World Cup crowns.
Imposible entender todo lo que ha pasado en los últimos años en el fútbol español sin ellos. Imposible describir la inmensa felicidad que nos han hecho sentir. Uno a uno se han ido yendo de La Liga. Hoy le toca a Andrés. Les vamos a echar mucho de menos, pero su legado es ETERNO. pic.twitter.com/f8XIvPDYH5
If Lionel Messi was the ruthless goalscorer and creative magician and Gerard Pique was the defensive destroyer, Andres Iniesta was the heartbeat of the club during its magical last 12-14 years. Iniesta leaves Barcelona with as one of the club’s most decorated players, with 31 separate titles (and room for 32 with Barcelona’s expected La Liga title this year, where he’ll loft the trophy at the Camp Nou one last time as captain).
He’s won the UEFA Champions League four times, La Liga nine times (including this year), and six Copas del Rey. And that’s just for Barcelona.
Without him, Spain doesn’t win the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, and of course the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where Iniesta’s goal was the difference in a 1-0 win over the Netherlands.
Playing in his favorite left side of midfield, Iniesta was always able to pull a rabbit out of his magician’s hat. His quick footwork always gave him a yard of space, and his precision passing, even just from side-to-side, kept defenders always moving, as he probed for an opening to play Messi or the rotating cast of world class forwards the club has had.
Wherever he goes next, Iniesta will always be remembered in Barcelona as a legend, and he’s leaving before it’s clear that he can’t play at the highest level.
Perhaps he’ll reunite with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City for one or two more years in the UEFA Champions League? Or maybe he’ll ride off into the sunset, pick up one last mega contract and enjoy the twilight of his career.
Newcastle vs Southampton, League Cup semifinal: How to watch live, stream link, team news
After securing their narrow advantage down on the south coast last week, Newcastle are firm favorites to reach a major cup final for the first time since the 1998-99 FA Cup, when the Magpies were beaten by the famed, treble-winning Manchester United side.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Newcastle vs Southampton.
Eddie Howe’s side has performed well above expectations this season, mounting a serious top-four challenge one or two years ahead of reasonable expectations. Getting to — and winning — a final in the same season would merely be icing on the cake for Howe, who took over the Premier League’s 19th-place side (5 points from 11 games) from Steve Bruce in November 2021.
Saints reached the League Cup final in 2017, but were somewhat controversially beaten by Manchester United at Wembley Stadium. Southampton have won more cup ties (6 of 7) than PL fixtures (4 of 20), which goes a long way toward explaining why Nathan Jones’ side sits rock-bottom of the PL table with just 15 points.
Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Jonjo Shelvey (calf), Matt Targett (foot), Emil Krafth (knee)
Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Juan Larios (adductor) | QUESTIONABLE: Moussa Djenepo (head), Alex McArthy (ankle)
Arsenal are pushing hard to sign Moises Caicedo, with the Ecuadorian midfielder not playing for Brighton in the FA Cup against Liverpool amid a reported new $86 million bid from the Gunners. Anthony Gordon has signed for Newcastle from Everton for a fee believed to be around $60 million.
Dango Ouattara (Lorient)
Darren Randolph (West Ham)
Antoine Semenyo (Bristol City)
Ferdinand Okoh (Dorchester) Loan
James Hill (Hearts) Loan
Will Dennis (Slough) Loan
Noa Boutin (Gosport) Loan
Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
Jakub Kiwior (Spezia Calcio)
Brooke Norton-Cuffy (Coventry) Loan
Miguel Azeez (Wigan) Loan
Arthur Okonkwo (Sturm Graz) Loan
Ovie Ejeheri (SJK Seinajoki) Loan
Harry Clarke (Ipswich Town)
In Aaron Ramsey (loan recall)
Tyreik Wright (loan recall)
Alex Moreno (Real Betis)
Jhon Duran (Chicago Fire)
Out Cameron Archer (Middlesbrough) Loan
Tyreik Wright (Plymouth Argyle)
Frederic Guilbert (RC Strasbourg)
Indiana Vassilev (St. Louis City SC)
Danny Ings (West Ham)
Jan Bednarek (loan recall)
Morgan Sanson (Strasbourg) Loan
In Byron Wilson (Coventry)
Conor McManus (Bray Wanderers)
Fin Stevens (loan recall)
Mads Bech (loan recall)
Beaux Booth (Dorking)
Kevin Schade (Freiburg) Loan
Paris Maghoma (loan recall)
Romeo Beckham (Inter Miami) Loan
Nathan Young-Coombes (loan recall)
Salomon Rondon (released)
Nathan Broadhead (Ipswich)
Tom Cannon (Preston) Loan
Niels Nkounkou (Saint-Etienne) Loan
Sebastian Quirk (Accrington Stanley)
Tyler Onyango (Forest Green) Loan
Anthony Gordon (Newcastle)
In Anthony Knockaert (loan recall)
Idris Odutayo (Maidenhead) Loan extension
Anthony Knockaert (Huddersfield) Loan
Ibane Bowat (Den Bosch) Loan
In Max Wober (RB Salzburg)
Georginio Rutter (Hoffenheim)
Out Mateusz Klich (MLS pending)
Alfie McCalmont (Carlisle) Loan
Leo Hjelde (Rotherham) Loan
Max Dean (MK Dons)
Cody Drameh (Luton) Loan
Joe Gelhardt (Sunderland) Loan
George Hirst (loan recall)
Victor Kristiansen (Copenhagen)
George Hirst (Ipswich) Loan
Ben Nelson (Doncaster) Loan
Jakub Stolarczyk (Hartlepool) Loan
Cody Gakpo (PSV)
Billy Koumetio (Austria Vienna) Loan recall
Max Woltman (loan recall)
Jakub Ojrzynski (loan recall)
James Balagizi (loan recall)
Fidel O’Rourke (loan recall)
Rhys Williams (loan recall)
Jake Cain (Swindon Town)
Jarell Quansah (Bristol Rovers) Loan
In Liam Delap (loan recall)
Maximo Perrone (Velez Sarsfield)
Luizao (Sao Paulo)
Armstrong Okoflex (loan recall)
Danny Ings (Aston Villa)
Thierry Nevers (Bradford) Loan
Craig Dawson (Wolves)
Pierre Ekwah (Sunderland)
Darren Randolph (AFC Bournemouth)
Will Greenidge (Colchester) Loan
In Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid) Loan
Joe Young (loan recall)
Louie Moulden (loan recall)
Theo Corbeanu (loan recall)
Christian Marques (loan recall)
Lewis Richards (loan recall)
Mario Lemina (Nice)
Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain)
Craig Dawson (West Ham)
Dan Bentley (Bristol City)
Ki-Jana Hoever (loan recall)
Out Leo Bonatini (released)
Joe Young (Telford) Loan
Goncalo Guedes (Benfica) Loan
Theo Corbeanu (Arminia Bielefeld) Loan
Leonardo Campana (Inter Miami)
Connor Ronan (Colorado Rapids)
Fabio Silva (PSV) Loan
Matija Sarkic (Stoke) Loan
Ki-Jana Hoever (Stoke) Loan
Jackson Smith (Walsall) Loan
From clicking on the links above to read the latest reports and analysis, having Sky Sports News live on Peacock all day long and to our own Pro Soccer Talk live deadline day show which starts at 5:30pm ET on Jan. 31, you won’t miss a thing.
Click on the video below to send in your questions for the PST crew for our deadline day chat where we will round up all of the deals happening late in the window, dish out grades to Premier League teams based on their business and give our analysis on the best signings of the January window.
Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?
Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.
Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.
Who are the candidates for relegation?
Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.
But Leicester, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy start.
Below you will find the latest Premier League table.