The ISL stirred with excitement as rumours of Andres Iniesta joining the League during the 2023-24 season kickoff arose. The prospect of Iniesta, a football icon, playing in India thrilled fans nationwide.
A Times of India journalist, Marcus Mergulhao, revealed that Iniesta’s representatives reached out to Mohun Bagan Super Giant. It was the time when the player decided to leave Japan. Yet, negotiations hit a roadblock due to Iniesta’s wage demand of USD 8 million; approximately 65 crores in Indian rupees. The request caused Mohun Bagan to call off discussions.
Instead, in August, the 39-year-old maestro joined UAE’s Emirates Club. Iniesta displayed his skills by scoring twice in eight appearances for the club.
Iniesta is one of football’s greatest midfielders. The move could have marked the most significant ISL transfer in recent years. He had a stellar career at FC Barcelona, accumulating 35 trophies. Among them are four UEFA Champions League and nine La Liga titles. His winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final remains etched in football history. He was also crucial during Spain’s triumphs in the Euros in 2008 and 2012.
Before Iniesta’s potential move, other iconic players flirted with joining Indian clubs. Brazilian legend Ronaldinho nearly signed with Chennaiyin FC during the ISL’s inaugural season. Yet, financial disagreements halted the deal. Chelsea’s Didier Drogba almost joined Atletico de Kolkata in 2015 but chose the MLS over the ISL.
While Mohun Bagan were in talks with players like Diego Costa in 2022, salary demands shattered these prospects. Yaya Toure and Cesc Fabregas also garnered interest. However, their wage expectations proved too steep for the ISL clubs.