Soccer / J. League

Andres Iniesta replaces Lukas Podolski as Vissel Kobe captain

Reuters

Andres Iniesta on Tuesday was named Vissel Kobe’s new captain, a week after German teammate Lukas Podolski relinquished the armband.

The club announced on Twitter that the Spanish great, who has been at the club for less than a year, would be taking over the armband and assisted by Daigo Nishi and Hotaru Yamaguchi.

Iniesta will hope to bring a steading presence to Kobe, which has struggled during a tumultuous start to the season.

Despite having World Cup winners Iniesta, Podolski and David Villa in its ranks, Kobe sits in 11th place in the 18-team league, including three defeats in its last four games.

Last week, coach Juan Manuel Lillo departed and Takayuki Yoshida returned for a second stint with Vissel.

Shortly after Lillo’s departure, Podolski stepped down as captain and shared a post on social media that hinted at turmoil within the club.

“Stop expecting loyalty from people who can’t even give you honesty,” Podolski’s post read.

It is not clear whether Yoshida will remain in charge for the rest of the season, with several Japanese media outlets speculating that former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas may be taking over at Kobe.