BEIJING – The top sponsor of Chinese club Chongqing Dangdai Lifan has said he is "positive" over signing Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta for next season.
The 33-year-old Spain midfielder would be a major coup for the little-known Chinese Super League side and the latest in an influx of top-tier foreigners following record-shattering signings in recent years.
Gong Daxing, chairman of the club's title sponsor SWM, told state-run Xinhua news agency he was "positive on introducing Iniesta".
"Iniesta's arrival would be beneficial for Chongqing and a great bonus for our brand," Gong said.
PPTV, the online broadcaster who holds rights to Spanish league – La Liga – in China cited "anonymous internal sources" from the club on Friday who said "it's already confirmed that Iniesta will sign up".
The club has yet to comment on the reports.
Iniesta was earlier linked with Tianjin Quanjian, although the Chinese Super League club declared the rumours "false" last month and threatened legal action.
The Spanish midfielder came up through the youth system at Barca and has made over 400 appearances for the club. He was one of the stars of the Spanish team that won the 2010 World Cup, scoring the winning goal in the final.
He signed a "lifetime contract" with Barcelona in October, but has said before that his future may lie elsewhere.
"Before April 30 I have to make the decision whether I'm still in Barcelona or I'm going to China. I have to assess what is best for me and for the club," Iniesta said last month.
"It is a decision that I will communicate to the club first and then you will find out. I will make a decision before April 30.
Chongqing Lifan's chairman, Jiang Lizhang, is spearheading attempts to lure the star player to China, Spanish sports newspaper Marca said Thursday.
Desports, a sports marketing agency owned by the Chinese billionare, has worked closely with Iniesta for years and the footballer has travelled to Chongqing for promotional events in the past.
"We have a close relationship. Iniesta is a very sincere person," Zhang said in an interview with Chinese news site Sports Face on Wednesday.
Zhang, 36, also owns Spanish football club Granada and owns stakes in Italian club Parma and US National Basketball Association franchise the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Some sports critics have frowned upon the move saying the little known club in Chongqing – whose only title was winning the Chinese Cup in 2000 – was no place for the Spaniard who was part of the winning Spain team at Euro 2008 and 2012.