SHANGHAI, China - Andres Iniesta's move to Chongqing Lifan is just "a rumour", the Chinese club's coach said, as the Barcelona captain gets ready to reveal his future plans.
Reports in Spain and China say the 33-year-old Spanish international midfielder is close to sealing a transfer to the Chinese Super League (CSL), 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 rumour and it is very difficult to comment on rumours.
"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 he 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".
Chongqing Lifan's chairman, Jiang Lizhang, is spearheading attempts to lure Iniesta to China, Spanish sports newspaper Marca previously reported. The club have declined to comment on the reports.