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Iniesta replaces Podolski as Kobe captain

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Iniesta replaces Podolski as Kobe captain
FILE PHOTO: Vissel Kobe's Andres Iniesta of Spain scores his first goal for Vissel Kobe during their J-League soccer match against Jubilo Iwata in Kobe, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo August 11, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS   -   Copyright  KYODO(Reuters)
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TOKYO (Reuters) – Andres Iniesta has been named as the new captain at J League club Vissel Kobe, a week after German team mate 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 Japanese pair Daigo Nishi and Hotaru Yamaguchi.

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

Despite having World Cup winners Iniesta, Podolski and David Villa in their ranks, Kobe sit in 11th place in the 18-team league having lost three of their last four games.

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

Shortly after Lillo’s departure, Podolski stepped down as captain and shared 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.

Kobe are bankrolled by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, who also sponsor Iniesta’s former club Barcelona, and face Cerezo Osaka on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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