Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi has claimed Andrés Iniesta's decision to leave the club this summer will leave a 'huge hole' in the squad that will be difficult for the club to fill.
Iniesta has opted to leave Catalonia after 22 years with the Blaugrana and the 34-year-old will join Japanese side Vissel Kobe this summer - linking up with a fellow World Cup winner in the form of Lukas Podolski.
The veteran midfielder received a heroes send-off in his last game for the club this season, even spending some time sitting within the centre circle once all the fans had left the Camp Nou after his final match against Real Sociedad.
But Messi has admitted that losing his teammate this summer will be a huge loss to the club, as well as to the entire footballing world.
Words can’t describe the pain I feel rn... but so much pride and love for my captain and my team. Iniesta will remain in our hearts forever, an icon, a legend, an incredible player.. Thank you for everything Iniesta thank you! #infinit8iniesta #GraciasIniesta ❤️❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/Krq7kQL46k— D (@DaliaTahaaa) May 20, 2018
"It's not just me that's going to miss [Iniesta], the world of football will miss him," Messi told Pollo Vignolo (via Sport). "OK he's still going to be playing, but [I won't] see him on a day to day basis, train with him, play with him...the truth is he leaves a huge hole. It will be difficult to replace him."
Iniesta made a total of 675 appearances for Barcelona throughout his career, scoring 57 goals and claiming 142 assists. The legendary midfielder also guided the club to an endless list of silverware, claiming nine La Liga titles and four Champions League winners medals.