Barca releases Samper amid reports of Iniesta link-up in Japan

Sergi Samper's time at Barcelona has come to an end, with the gifted midfielder widely expected to join Andres Iniesta in Japan.

Sergi Samper was initially seen as the long-term successor to Sergio Busquets and was handed his senior debut in 2014 in a Champions League match against APOEL.   -  Getty Images

Barcelona has cancelled the contract of midfielder Sergi Samper amid reports of an impending link-up with Andres Iniesta at Japanese side Vissel Kobe.

La Masia graduate Samper, 24, leaves Barca after never really living up to his early promise. A technically gifted midfielder, Samper was initially seen as the long-term successor to Sergio Busquets and was handed his senior debut in September 2014, appearing against APOEL in the Champions League.

He had to wait until March 2016 for his La Liga debut, and loan spells with Granada and Las Palmas followed. But neither move went to plan, with both clubs suffering relegation from the top flight, and his development was hampered by injuries, particularly at Las Palmas.

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Reports in Spain claim Samper is expected to join his former Barca team-mate Iniesta at Vissel Kobe.

Samper is expected to confirm his next move at a news conference on Tuesday.