Yet the private jet that took off from Spain headed further east than Chongqing, pretty much as Far East as you can go in Asia-Tokyo.
In front of hundred of journalist, the storied Spanish midfielder signed a three-year deal that is going to earn him a reported $90 million.
That is what the man who scored the winning goal in the world cup final can do. He has also won all there is to win in Europe and now he is Asia. Helping Vissel Kobe becomes a force in Japanese football should just be a matter of time but lifting the profile of the club and the league in Japan, Asia and around the world is going to take just as much hard work.
But that is part of the remit. Japan e-commerce titan Rakuten owns Kobe and is bankrolling the deal.
The club is getting one of the best players in the world, a genuine star who should settle in very quickly and make Kobe into a better team. Yet off the pitch, he should help get more bums on seats. His new club has usually been a mid-table finisher, at best, with a seventh-place finish in 2016 the highest ever finish.
The J.League will also be rubbing its hands in anticipation. Lukas Podolski arrived at Kobe in 2017 and has not had quite the effect wanted on or off the pitch. The German has not always seemed enthusiastic about public relations for the club or league. It is to be hoped that Iniesta will be a little more active.
The league’s international profile does not match its quality and that is something that officials have been looking to change for some time and the quickest way to do so is to sign a big star.