Villa sought Iniesta's approval for Vissel Kobe switch

Tackling a new challenge alongside old friend Andres Iniesta was key in persuading David Villa to join J. League club Vissel Kobe.

Former Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and David Villa will be seen together again playing for their new side Vissel Kobe.   -  Getty Images

Andres Iniesta played a key role in selling Vissel Kobe to his old Spain and Barcelona team-mate David Villa.

Villa will be reunited with Iniesta at the J. League club after the 36-year-old left New York City at the end of his contract.

Iniesta ended a career-long association with Barca to join Kobe at the end of the 2017-18 season and ex-Germany star Lukas Podolski plays alongside him under head coach Juan Manuel Lillo – a mentor to Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

Kobe concluded its 2018 campaign with a 3-2 win over Vegalta Sendai on Saturday, with Iniesta scoring as the side took a 3-0 lead.

READ: Villa to join Iniesta at Vissel Kobe

Although Kobe could only manage a 10th-place finish, Villa was convinced to join after Iniesta spoke in glowing terms of his Japanese experience.

"When I got an offer for this Vissel transfer, I called Iniesta and my wife called and talked to Iniesta's wife," he told a news conference.

"[They spoke about] the goodness of the city of Kobe. He's had a wonderful time with the family here.

"I listened to him talk about the club's cosiness and the club project. 

"I got a good impression from Iniesta. He was my team-mate as well as my friend of many years. 

"That I can have the challenge of a new project with him feels attractive."

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