By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Lionel Messi was named as Barcelona’s captain on Friday following the departure of long-serving midfielder Andres Iniesta, while defenders Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto were named new vice-captains in a statement by the La Liga champions.
Messi, Barca’s all-time top scorer, has been a vice-captain since 2015 and takes the club’s armband from Iniesta, who succeeded Xavi Hernandez as captain in 2015 but left for Japanese club Vissel Kobe in June.
Midfielder Sergio Busquets was named first vice-captain, followed by Pique, who has been at Barcelona since 2008. It’s the first time Pique has been named a vice-captain at the club.
Academy graduate Roberto took the final position, vacated by Javier Mascherano who left earlier this year for Chinese outfit Hebei China Fortune, despite only being a first team regular for three seasons.
It is the first time since the 2014-15 season that all the club’s four captains have come through the club’s famous La Masia youth academy.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)