Andres Iniesta started on the bench again against Granada. Something that’s becoming normal this season in La Liga. He’s started just eight games out of 29 league matches. And he’s the midfielder least used by Luis Enrique: 815 minutes. What is happening to Barcelona’s captain? The answer is that between injuries and rotations, he has lost his central role.
Iniesta has suffered three injuries this season, two in the knee and one muscular. They have kept him out for 81 days. Because of his physical problems, Andres has lost a total of 18 games in La Liga and the Champions League. The first was at the start of the season, August 14, in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Iniesta clashed with Mariano and hurt his right knee.
The next, the worst, came against Valencia on October 22. A fierce tackle by Enzo Perez did ligament damage to his right knee. 41 days out, eight games. Then his third injury. January 19, against Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg. Iniesta suffered a calf injury in his left leg and was out for 19 days.
Beyond his physical problems, that have affected his performance, Luis Enrique has also not wanted to play him all the rest of the time. In eight games of the 16 he has played, he started from the bench. And he only played the full 90 in five of those he started.
Andres Iniesta is the least used midfielder in the squad. Only two players have played less than Iniesta (815 mins) in the squad Aleix Vidal (472) and Paco Alcacer (616).
In terms of central midfielders the list is:
1- Sergio Busquets: 1.883 minutes
2- Ivan Rakitic: 1.671 minutes
3- André Gomes: 1.189 minutes
4- Arda Turan: 1.154 minutes
5- Rafinha: 1.077 minutes
6- Denis Suárez: 1.024 minutes
7- Andrés Iniesta: 815 minutes
The games Iniesta has started are:
Week 4: Leganés-FC Barcelona (1-5)
Week 5: FC Barcelona-Atlético (1-1)
Week 9: Valencia-FC Barcelona (2-3)
Week 15: Osasuna-FC Barcelona (0-3)
Week 16: FC Barcelona-Espanyol (4-1)
Week 17: Villarreal-FC Barcelona (1-1)
Week 24: Atlético-FC Barcelona (1-2)
Week 28: FC Barcelona-Valencia (4-2)
In the Champions League Iniesta has played six of eight games (414 minutes) and only 4 in the Copa del Rey (242 minutes).
It is important to remember that Iniesta is currently negotiating his new contract, and recently said, “I’m not going to be here [at Barca] just for the sake of being here.”