Tokyo (AFP) – Japan’s Vissel Kobe have denied making a big-money offer to bring Barcelona star Andres Iniesta to the J-League, local media reported on Wednesday.
Kobe sports director Atsuhiro Miura insisted that reports club president Hiroshi Mikitani had offered the Spanish World Cup winner a three-year deal and a salary of $30 million were wide of the mark.
“I’m amazed, I haven’t heard anything about that,” Miura was quoted as saying.
“To be honest, that amount of money doesn’t seem realistic to me. If he actually came he would be incredible — but it’s not realistic.”
Miura admitted he had accompanied Mikitani to Spain to watch last weekend’s “El Clasico” between Barcelona and Real Madrid but insisted talks with Iniesta “had not taken place.”
Vissel officials were not immediately available to comment when contacted by AFP.
Mikitani, however, is also the CEO of Barcelona’s main sponsor Rakuten, further fuelling speculation that a deal was close after China’s Chongqing Lifan denied they were in the hunt to sign Iniesta.
Australian football chiefs have also expressed their interest in bringing Iniesta to the A-League.
Were Vissel to sign the 33-year-old Barca playmaker, it would represent arguably the biggest transfer coup in J-League history.
Former Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski is currently the captain of the team having joined from Galatasaray last summer.
Danish legend Michael Laudrup, himself a former Barcelona fan favourite, also played for Vissel in 1996-97.
Iniesta, who scored the winning goal for Spain against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final, left the field to a standing ovation — and a hug from Real coach Zinedine Zidane — after Barca’s 2-2 draw with their fierce rivals on Sunday.