Samper: Iniesta convinced me to join Vissel Kobe
Andres Iniesta helped convince Sergi Samper to sign for Vissel Kobe, the former Barcelona midfielder has confirmed.
Samper's departure from Barca was announced on Monday with the leaders of LaLiga agreeing to cancel his contract.
The midfielder's career has been wrecked by injuries and he has made just a single appearance across all competitions for Barca this season.
And Samper feels a switch to J1 League where he will reunite with Barca icon Iniesta could be the kickstart he needs.
"Andres was key, he told me several times that it was a good place," Samper told a farewell Barca news conference. "And Gerard [Pique] also advised me. The news came through from him. I'm very grateful.
"It was not an easy decision, going to Japan at 24 is something I had not thought about, but seeing the project and seeing that I can feel loved and valued again... I'm focused on the present.
"I have not had good luck, the injuries have burdened me, but you never know what would have happened. They have hurt me, I am convinced that things would have gone better for me, although you never know 100 per cent.
"It's been difficult, stressful days, speaking with the most intimate family and friends, it's a difficult and complicated decision, but I think it's right. It's been four or five days, they came to explain it to me, it's been risky because you change continent and life, but I wanted to prove myself, it's a very competitive league.
"I talked to Iniesta and he explained to me how they play, he told me that it is a very technical league and that I will enjoy it a lot. It was a decision made in a week, and all the information I got from the project was very interesting.
"I want to play again and enjoy football, when you sit down with the owner of the club and with the founder of [Vissel backers] Rakuten and they explain a solid and ambitious project, they convinced me, they want to play in the Barca style.
"Andres convinced me to go to Japan, those calls have been very important."
As well as Iniesta, Samper joins David Villa and Lukas Podolski at Vissel Kobe, who have taken three points from their first two games of the new J1 League season.