Andres Iniesta has signed a “lifetime” contract at Barcelona that will keep him playing for the club until his retirement.
The midfielder, who is now 33, has made 639 appearances for the team, a number only surpassed by Xavi’s club record of 767.
Iniesta joined Barcelona in 1996 when he was just 12 years old and has gone on to score 55 goals since he made his first team debut in October 2002. His previous deal was due to expire next summer but he has now avoided becoming a free agent by committing himself to Barcelona.
The club released a statement saying, “Andres Iniesta signed a lifetime contract with FC Barcelona on Friday, in a deal that will keep him at the club for the rest of his career.”
He has been the team’s captain since 2015 and shares the record with Lionel Messi of having won 30 titles with Barcelona.
However, he has said that the contract does not mean that he will hang around playing in meaningless games and collecting a salary. Speaking after signing the new contract Iniesta said, “I will not be here forever just to play two games a year. I will be the first to know when this is over. I don’t want to be here for the sake of being here. I want to be here because I’m important; because I am relevant to the club, the team and my teammates.”
He said that he will “follow” his body and make a sensible decision about retirement when he feels that he has had enough.
Barcelona’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has described the club’s first contract for life as “An exceptional contract for an exceptional player”.
Barcelona have had a fantastic start to the season with seven wins from seven games and face Atletico Madrid next weekend.