ANDRES INIESTA yesterday reiterated his desire to be reunited with Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona next season after the two players combined to win the World Cup for Spain on Sunday.
With just four minutes of extra time remaining in the final against the Netherlands, substitute Fabregas picked out Iniesta in the area and the Barca midfielder slotted home to give Spain their first ever World Cup triumph.
The Catalan giants are keen to sign the Arsenal captain and have already had one bid turned down by the Gunners this summer, but Iniesta, who spent several years with Fabregas in Barca’s youth team, hopes to be able to link up with him at the Nou Camp next season.
“Let’s hope so. Everybody has come out and spoken of the desire we have for him to be with us next season. We would be delighted. Not just because he is a team-mate and a friend, but because it would be great for the club,” Iniesta said yesterday.
“His arrival would give us a huge jump up in quality and he would play his part to help us stay up there competing in the big competitions. We would love him to be here.”
Iniesta, meanwhile, claimed he never lost faith in achieving World Cup success, despite a frustrating season with injuries and a bad start for Vicente del Bosque’s side in South Africa.
Iniesta struggled for long periods last season with a thigh problem and only reappeared for Barcelona right at the end of the campaign.
The midfielder aggravated the injury in Spain’s friendly win over Poland before the start of the World Cup and was forced off once more as Del Bosque’s side went down 1-0 to Switzerland in their opening match in South Africa. But the 26-year-old returned to play a key part in Spain’s World Cup win, scoring the winner.
“I have always had faith and confidence. I had a lot of confidence in this team from the very first moment,” he said.
“It has been a difficult season, hard for me in many ways, but there have also been moments of the season when I have felt good. It has simply been a hard season and nothing more.’’
After scoring his goal against the Netherlands in Johannesburg, Iniesta peeled off his shirt to reveal a tribute to former Espanyol captain Dani Jarque, who passed away tragically from a heart attack last year, at the age of 26.
“It’s always been in my mind to pay tribute to him in some way,” Iniesta said.
“He was a footballer and the idea came about before the final. (Spain team-mate) Fernando Llorente mentioned it to me because some of our team-mates were doing similar things with Antonio Puerta (who passed away from a heart condition in late 2007), or some other person they cared for who isn’t around anymore.
“And what a moment to pay tribute to such a great person and great friend like Dani. It was the best tribute in the best moment to make sure he remained with us.”
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