Valverde waits on Iniesta answer as Barcelona captain considers exit

Ernesto Valverde admits he would like to have Andres Iniesta at Barcelona "forever" as the midfielder mulls over his options.

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta.   -  Getty Images

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is content to wait patiently for Andres Iniesta's decision on whether to continue his career at the club.

The 33-year-old, who came off the bench in Sunday's straightforward 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao, has set an April 30 deadline to decide whether he will pursue a move away from Spain.

Iniesta signed a "lifetime contract" earlier this season which reportedly includes a clause enabling him to leave for a club of lesser stature.

China has been suggested as the most likely destination, but Valverde sees no reason to speculate.

"At the moment all we can do is wait and see what he decides," the Barca boss said.

"So far he has not made a choice in any way. You cannot put the bandage on before the injury.

"We know what he brings and we would all like to have Iniesta forever."

Sunday's win saw Barca open up an 11-point gap to Atletico Madrid atop LaLiga, with Diego Simeone's men later losing 2-1 at Villarreal.

With his team's Copa del Rey final berth already booked and their place in the Champions League quarter-finals confirmed, Valverde is not shying away from talk of winning on all three fronts.

"I'm not afraid that people will begin to expect us to win the treble," he said.

"They may say we have a chance to do it, but it's very far away.

"Being at this stage of the season, I think that now players can disconnect [during the international break] and come back ready to face a fundamental stage for our aspirations."

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