Iniesta in relegation mire as Spain legend’s Japan move turns sour

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The 37-year-old joined big-spending Vissel Kobe in Japan in 2018 after making more than 600 appearances for Barcelona, where he won the Champions League four times and scooped nine La Liga titles.

But the 2010 World Cup winner is now facing the possibility that he could become embroiled in a relegation battle for the first time in his storied career unless his side can quickly turn their season around.

Vissel have made a disastrous start to the J-League campaign and sit one spot off the foot of the table after failing to win in 10 games so far.

Iniesta has looked badly off the pace at times and suffered the indignity of being nutmegged in the build-up to an FC Tokyo goal last week as Vissel threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1.

They fired manager Atsuhiro Miura last month and replaced him with Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Lotina, a man whose CV includes relegations with five different clubs in his home country.

“Where we’ve been coming up short is that we haven’t been making the most of our chances and we haven’t been able to see games out defensively either,” Iniesta, who lifted 32 major trophies with Barcelona, said earlier this season.

“All we can do is keep looking for a win and keep trying to improve,” said the midfielder, who turns 38 next month.

It was not supposed to be like this when he moved to the port city of Kobe in 2018 from Barcelona on a three-year deal worth a reported $30 million a year.

In May last year he signed a two-year extension for what will surely be his final contract as a player.

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