Madrid wanted to sign me, claims Barcelona great Iniesta
Barcelona hero Andres Iniesta claims he was the subject of transfer interest from Real Madrid.
Spain midfielder Iniesta will begin a new chapter of his career at the end of the World Cup in Russia after signing for J.League side Vissel Kobe.
He won nine LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among a host of honours after progressing through Barca's academy system.
As such, the 34-year-old only ever had designs on success with the Catalan club, even when he was a bit-part player during his initial seasons in the first-team squad.
A move to bitter rivals Madrid was certainly out of the question
"There have been some moments when Madrid has felt around me to sign me," Iniesta said in a wide-ranging interview on El Hormiguero.
"There have never been negotiations beyond the fact of [Madrid] wanting me to be there. I was always clear that I wanted to succeed in Barcelona.
"The beginnings were not easy. There was talk of going somewhere else, but I always preferred to play 10 minutes here than more on another team."
Just landed in Barcelona after 3 amazing days! Thank you all!!! pic.twitter.com/7t98D6ES3j
— Andrés Iniesta (@andresiniesta8) May 26, 2018
Iniesta acknowledged he had been considering moving on from Camp Nou for 18 months and has decided to take on a new challenge in Japan for fear he would fall below the standards demanded at Barcelona.
"I'm leaving because I understand what it means to be at this club and the demands it implies," he said.
"I feel that it would be very difficult to give the club what it deserves, it is the most honest way.
"The idea of leaving was born a year and a half ago, it was going around in my head. I did not know if this year was going to be the last, but if I left here it could not be with the image of last year.
"It was not a decision today for tomorrow; it has been a process where you are getting used to the idea.
"I hardly decide from day to day. I like to meditate on it, with good and bad things. I am leaving the club where I've been all my life."