Andrés Iniesta’s departure from Barcelona the summer will impact the club as much as Cristiano Ronaldo’s move away from Real Madrid, according to Barça head coach Ernesto Valverde.
The veteran midfielder opted to call time on his long and illustrious career at the Camp Nou in favour of a move to Japanese side Vissel Kobe, despite putting pen to paper on a lifetime contract in Catalonia last year.
And Barcelona manager Valverde believes that the club will be weakened by Iniesta’s departure just as much as Real Madrid will be after Ronaldo decided to leave the Santiago Bernabéu and join reigning Serie A champions Juventus.
“We do not know to what extent this will weaken Madrid, but he is a player who has given a lot to the club and you have to recognise everything he has done,” Valverde told reporters about Ronaldo’s exit, quoted by Goal.
“The loss of Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid is as important as the one we have with Andrés. Julen [Lopetegui] will try to notice Cristiano’s absence as little as possible.”
It would appear that Valverde is seemingly trying to rule out any excuses Real Madrid may have if they fail to snatch the La Liga title of off Barcelona next season, even if Los Blancos are once again successful in the Champions League.
However, Iniesta’s departure from Barcelona will undoubtedly impact the club drastically. Even at the age of 34, the midfielder made 44 appearances across all competitions last season as La Blaugrana went on to win the domestic double.