Chongqing coach: No Iniesta bid

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Andres Iniesta's move to Chongqing Lifan is just "a rumor," the Chinese club's coach has said, as the Barcelona captain gets ready to reveal his future plans.
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Andres Iniesta’s move to Chongqing Lifan is just “a rumor,” the Chinese club’s coach has said, as the Barcelona captain gets ready to reveal his future plans.

Reports in Spain and China say the 33-year-old Spanish midfielder is close to sealing a transfer to the Chinese Super League, with Chongqing said to be his most likely destination.

Chongqing coach Paulo Bento, who was in charge of Portugal at the last World Cup, said: “This is a rumor and it is very difficult to comment on rumors.

“But I don’t think there is any fan or coach in the world that doesn’t like a player like Iniesta,” the Portuguese said, according to Chinese media reports, after Chongqing won 2-0 at Anhui Hefei in the fourth round of the Chinese FA Cup on Wednesday.

Iniesta, who has been central to Barcelona and Spain’s success over more than a decade, looks set to leave his boyhood club at the end of the season.

He is keeping tight-lipped about his future, but has been strongly linked for months with a move to the CSL and most recently Chongqing, whose only major trophy was the Chinese FA Cup in 2000.

PPTV, a Chinese online broadcaster which holds rights to La Liga in China, last week cited “anonymous internal sources” from Chongqing as saying that “it’s already confirmed that Iniesta will sign up.”

Meanwhile, Shanghai Shenhua has issued an apology to its fans on the club’s social media outlets after the FA Cup holder was knocked out by third division side Nantong Zhiyun on Wednesday.

Shenhua, which beat big-spending city rival Shanghai SIPG in the final in November, was handed a 2-3 defeat by Nantong after holding a two-goal lead at halftime.

“For the last two games, the team has had problems both in attack and defense and those will be reviewed by the team,” the club said in a statement. “We’re sorry to the many fans who came to support us, and apologize to those who care about Shenhua.”

Nantong plays in the southern group of China League II, the third tier of the country’s football system which is played on a regional basis.

The loss was the second in a row for Shenhua following its 1-5 CSL defeat to Jiangsu Suning on Sunday.

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