Iniesta aspires to wear captain’s armband for Barcelona this season
Andres Iniesta has admitted that being named Barcelona captain would be the realization of a "lifelong dream."
The 30-year-old midfielder is in the frame for the skipper’s role following the retirement of Carles Puyol and the departure of Victor Valdes.
And Iniesta, who is a product of Barcelona’s youth academy, would relish the opportunity of leading the Catalans as they seek to reclaim the Primera Division title from Atletico Madrid in Luis Enrique’s first season in charge. He told Spanish daily sport newspaper El Mundo Deportivo.
"Moments like these make you feel both proud and happy," said Iniesta. "For those of us who’ve been in the first team for a long time and come through the ranks at the club, captaining the first team is a lifelong dream, another step in your career, and proof that you’re still improving as a player. Although, on the flip side, it means you’re getting older."
Iniesta, who was part of Spain’s disastrous World Cup campaign, revealed he is looking forward to the new season after Barcelona flattered to deceive in 2013-14.
"The truth is that I’m really happy to be part of this squad," he said. "The experiences you go through, not just on the pitch, but on a personal level, toughen you up; they make you a better person and a better player."
Earlier this week, Barcelona reached an agreement with Valencia to sign defender Jeremy Mathieu for â¬20 million, the Catalan club have announced. The Frenchman came through the ranks at Ligue 1 side Sochaux, making his professional debut in 2002 and eventually moved to fellow French side Toulouse in 2005.
Although Mathieu will be able to deputize for Alba, he is likely to also play as defender and cover for the loss of captain Puyol, who retired from football at the end of last season. The signing of 30-year-old Mathieu, who has two international caps with France, has attracted criticism from former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez, who told Catalan radio station RAC1: "I don’t think he has the profile to play for Barcelona and even less so for this price."
However, Barca midfielder Rafinha Alcantara welcomed the signing of Mathieu, telling a press conference on Wednesday: "Mathieu is a complete defender, with incredible speed. He’s a great centerback."