Iniesta to leave Barcelona at the end of season

Andres Iniesta has never won the Ballon d'Or but Sergio Ramos believes he deserved

Andres Iniesta has never won the Ballon d'Or but Sergio Ramos believes he deserved

Pep Guardiola has thanked Andres Iniesta for helping him understand football "better" after the Spain midfielder announced he would be leaving Barcelona this summer.

Since then he has made 550 appearances for Barca, won eight La Liga titles (it will be nine by the end of the season), four Champions Leagues, six Copas del Rey, three European and seven Spanish Supercups and four World Club Championships with the club.

"This press conference is to announce publicly my decision that this season will be my last here", Iniesta said at the club's Ciutat Esportiva training ground.

Although the 33-year-old has not confirmed his next destination, he is being strongly linked with a move to Chinese Super League side Chongqing Lifan.

"They are the ones who make me better, as well as all the fans who have given me their love, my parents, my sister..." "And that is all I have tried to do, to be both the great player and the great person that this club deserves". Even supporters of Espanyol, Barca´s bitter rivals, applaud the midfielder after he celebrated his World Cup winning goal in 2010 by lifting up his shirt to reveal a tribute to Dani Jarque, Espanyol´s captain who died the previous year.

For a club which prides itself on producing the world's top playmakers and passers, there has been no one quite like Iniesta.

France Football apologised earlier this week for never awarding Iniesta the Ballon d'Or, but he says individual glory was never what he aspired to.

Iniesta is likely to win his 35 medal when Barcelona wrap up the Primera Divisón title in the coming weeks before he moves on.

"I just want to be happy like I have been here", Iniesta added. "[My next move] will be finalised when the season ends".

He went on to say: "I want to thank the club and La Masia for all they have given me because I am what I am in part because of them".

He is set to retire from worldwide football after the World Cup in Russian Federation.

He has also collected two European Championships and, perhaps most pivotally, fired the winning goal as Spain clinched the 2010 World Cup.

"That is the good thing about this national team, that we have given joyful days to those anonymous heroes who don't often get the chance to smile".

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