The World Cup and European Championship winner is regarded as one of the all-time greats, but who does the 35-year-old look up to?
Former Barcelona great Andres Iniesta has named his three best midfielders and it may come as little surprise that the 35-year-old’s list is compromised entirely of Blaugrana stars of past and present – although former head coach Pep Guardiola narrowly missed out.
Iniesta himself is regarded as one of the most talented engine-room operators the game has ever seen, pulling the strings for both Barcelona and Spain on his way to securing four Champions League titles, nine La Liga crowns, countless domestic honours and both the European and World Cups.
The one-time Ballon d’Or runner up has altered the pace of his career of late, however, opting to take in life in Japan’s J-League with Vissel Kobe, featuring alongside fellow ex-Barca stars David Villa and Thomas Vermaelen and helping the side to to an Emperor’s Cup in 2019.
And while the Camp Nou legend may no longer be the force that he once was, many still look to him for inspiration – just as he did with his own heroes and a few notable former team-mates during his time in La Liga.
“Michael Laudrup is my idol from childhood,” Iniesta told ex-Vissel Kobe team-mate Nasu Daisuke’s official YouTube channel when asked to name three of the best. “His technique and his beatiful play style, the way he attacked as a midfielder; I’ve been trying to be like him since I was a kid.
“I played with Xavi for a long time and I’ve watched him a lot on television. He is my ideal player because of how he can control games. He has the ability to provide quality passes in the right places and he is also a leader. He really is an ideal midfielder for me.
“Just like Xavi, I played with Sergio Busquets for a long time too, both with Barcelon and in the Spanish national team. He plays a very important role, the supporting midfielder – he can read football matches so well.
“He’s a good passer but he also creates passing lanes for the centre-backs as well. His role is very important to make the Barcelona system work.”
Adding on another idol of his, Guardiola, who would have made the list if there was room for one more, Iniesta said: “Pep should also be on the list because he was a childhood hero alongside Laudrup.”
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