Veron confirms talks with Iniesta over Estudiantes move

By Sports Desk December 23, 2019

Estudiantes president Juan Sebastian Veron confirmed talks have taken place with Vissel Kobe captain Andres Iniesta over a switch to the Argentine club.

Spanish great Iniesta has been linked to a reunion with former Barcelona team-mate Javier Mascherano at Estudiantes.

The 35-year-old Iniesta – contracted to Vissel until 2021 – has called Japan home since leaving LaLiga giants Barca in 2018.

Amid growing links to Estudiantes – where ex-Barca defender Gabriel Milito is head coach – after Mascherano arrived from Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortuna, Veron insisted negotiations are yet to take place.

"Today, we can't say that there are negotiations with Iniesta," Veron told La Oral Deportiva. "[But] yes, there are talks.

"[Trying to sign] Iniesta is something that people will not forget about, regardless of whether it materialises or not."

Veron added: "Having Javier in the club is an important fact, not only for Estudiantes but also for Argentine football, for all that he is as a person and a professional."

Iniesta has scored 10 goals since joining Vissel, who also boast Lukas Podolski, Thomas Vermaelen and Sergi Samper, while David Villa retired at the end of the season.

Related items

  • Pique: Barca can change season completely with second straight win against Sevilla Pique: Barca can change season completely with second straight win against Sevilla

    Gerard Pique believes Barcelona have the opportunity to turn their entire season around by knocking Sevilla out of the Copa del Rey having beaten the same side in LaLiga on Saturday.

    The first part of a huge double-header went Barca's way in a 2-0 away triumph as Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi scored to take Ronald Koeman's men to second.

    The Blaugrana are now only two points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid, albeit having played two games more, and have their confidence renewed heading into Wednesday's home Copa semi-final second leg against Sevilla, where they must overturn a two-goal deficit.

    A 2-0 defeat in the first leg earlier in February had contributed to a downbeat mood at Camp Nou, combined with a humbling Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain and a modest league position.

    But Barca stalwart Pique is now feeling positive, even though Pedri and the returning Ronald Araujo appeared to suffer injuries.

    He explained: "There is a league [title race]. We have seen much worse things. We are not in a perfect situation, but there is confidence. We hope we can do something.

    "Everything is in the head. During my time at Barca, we have had many moments of these injuries, but if the team is good in the head, it does not matter who plays. It is a matter of having team spirit.

    "If we turn it around in the tie on Wednesday, the season changes completely.

    "It's a matter of looking for that life that allows us to fight for titles until the end, which is what Barca are asked to do."

    After the Copa first leg kickstarted a run of one win in four for Barca, they have enjoyed back-to-back victories and were good value for Saturday's success, Koeman's first against Sevilla in his coaching career.

    Sevilla did not muster a single first-half attempt and finished with only four in total, while Barca had three big chances - from which Opta would expect them to score - and netted two of them.

    "The last times I have come to speak [to the media] have been painful moments," Pique said. "Today I am very proud of the team. We came from hard blows and the team has risen.

    "Today I think we have shown that the team is still very much alive, that it has the squad to compete and that on Wednesday we will fight."

    Araujo, back having been out since prior to the February 10 trip to Sevilla, was only involved due to Pique's substitution on 67 minutes.

    Pique, whose seven aerial duels contested was more than any other Barca player, was not injured, though, rather still working to recover full fitness following a three-month layoff with a knee injury.

    "It is a small inconvenience," he said. "I had not played for a long time and I am playing more than expected.

    "It was agreed that this would be the minute. I am very happy to continue participating."

  • Sevilla 0-2 Barcelona: Dembele and Messi settle league encounter before Copa semi Sevilla 0-2 Barcelona: Dembele and Messi settle league encounter before Copa semi

    Barcelona claimed a deserved 2-0 LaLiga win at Sevilla on Saturday in the first of the sides' two crunch clashes.

    The Blaugrana will host Sevilla in their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg in midweek but first took care of business in the league thanks to strikes from Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi.

    A display of similar dominance will now be required at Camp Nou, as Barca trail 2-0 from the first leg of their Copa tie.

    Ronald Koeman's men will certainly not be short of confidence, though, after climbing to second, only two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid having played two games more.

    [17:09] bensprattjourn (Guest)

    Barca had initially lacked a focal point, playing a 3-5-2 formation without a natural striker, yet their unorthodox front two combined to great effect for the opener after 29 minutes.

    As Messi dropped deep to collect the ball, Dembele tore away on the shoulder of the last defender and met a pinpoint pass to fire under Yassine Bounou.

    That was the only moment of real quality in a low-key first half, but Barca twice in quick succession should have added to their advantage after the break.

    Sergino Dest blasted against the post when the ball broke his way following a patent move, before Dembele raced away again and teed up Messi, who blazed over.

    Clement Lenglet then had a header ruled out for offside, yet Messi settled any nerves as he played a smart one-two with Ilaix Moriba and prodded in the rebound when Bounou blocked his dinked attempt five minutes from the end.

    Only an apparent injury to Ronald Araujo, 15 minutes after his return to action, put a dampener on Barca's day.

  • Bayern Munich 5-1 Cologne: Lewandowski and Gnabry at the double as Muller returns Bayern Munich 5-1 Cologne: Lewandowski and Gnabry at the double as Muller returns

    Bayern Munich returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga as Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry both scored twice in a convincing 5-1 win over Cologne.

    After returning to domestic duties following their Club World Cup success in Qatar with a home draw against Arminia Bielefeld, the reigning champions slipped to a 2-1 loss away at Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend.

    However, a 4-1 thrashing of Lazio in Champions League action in midweek proved the catalyst for a first league triumph at their Allianz Arena home since January 30.

    Lewandowski's first goal helped Bayern ease into a 2-0 half-time lead and while Cologne briefly threatened a comeback, the returning Thomas Muller made an immediate impression off the bench, providing the assist that allowed the competition's leading scorer to take his tally for the campaign to 28.

    Like Muller, substitute Gnabry had an impact on his comeback, the Germany international tucking away a pair of routine finishes as the hosts eased clear in the closing stages.

    Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had opened the scoring with his first league goal for the club, heading in an inviting cross from Leon Goretzka, who then went on to set up his side's second before the break.

    The midfielder waltzed his way beyond Rafael Czichos before laying the ball off as goalkeeper Timo Horn came towards him, allowing the ever-ready Lewandowski to roll it into the net.

    Cologne failed to even muster an attempt as the first half proved to be one-way traffic, yet they were gifted a route back into the game when hesitation between centre-back pairing Jerome Boateng and David Alaba allowed Ellyes Skhiri in to produce a delicate lofted finish over the advancing Manuel Neuer.

    The goal caused a brief wobble, yet the 64th-minute arrival of Muller - back after overcoming coronavirus - helped steady Bayern, the substitute teeing up Lewandowski to restore the two-goal cushion with a shot on the turn.

    Dominick Drexler hit the post from a tight angle after robbing possession from Neuer before Gnabry's four-minute brace, the second of which was set up by the outstanding Goretzka with another delightful delivery into the area, added a touch of gloss to the final scoreline.

     

    What does it mean? Bayern remain clear at the summit

    Bayern's recent blip had allowed the chasing pack – led by RB Leipzig – to close the gap at the top of the table. Flick's side have already lost more Bundesliga games in 2021 (two) than they did across the entirety of the previous year.

    This win is therefore most welcome in what has suddenly become a tighter-than-expected title race, but Flick – who made 44 appearances for Cologne during his playing career - will be concerned at the careless defensive lapse that allowed Skhiri to give the visitors a slither of hope.

    Duo back to boost Bayern

    While COVID-19 had kept Muller away, Gnabry had not featured since the Club World Cup final due to a thigh issue. The latter only had 13 touches during his goalscoring cameo, but the availability of the pair helps add further strength in depth, even if the fixture congestion eases in March.

    Defensive cracks raise concerns

    Bayern had conceded 31 goals prior to this game, their highest tally through 22 league games in a campaign since 1991-92. The chance of a clean sheet disappeared when Boateng and Alaba dithered over who was going to attack a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area, in the end neither bothering to take control of the situation.

    What's next?

    Bayern have a rare week between fixtures, giving them time to prepare for the visit of Borussia Dortmund next Saturday. Cologne, meanwhile, will be hosting Werder Bremen the following day.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.