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Sources: Barca near agreement to sign De Ligt

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'Iniesta stay' chants from Barcelona fans abound at Camp Nou

Andres Iniesta was subbed on in the second half of Barcelona's match against Athletic Bilbao to a chorus of Barcelona fans begging the midfielder to remain at the club next season.

Barcelona fans went on the charm offensive on Sunday in an attempt to convince Andres Iniesta to remain at the club beyond the end of the season.

There was a huge roar when the midfielder appeared on the sideline to warm up in the second half of Barca's 2-0 win against Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou.

The 84,000-strong crowd then chanted his name as he replaced Ousmane Dembele in the 64th minute, having returned from a hamstring injury in the midweek game against Chelsea.

Continuing their commitment to the cause, the Barca supporters then chanted for several minutes: "Iniesta, quedate" -- "Iniesta, stay."

Iniesta revealed after the Chelsea match on Wednesday that he was considering an offer to move to China at the end of the current campaign and would take a decision on his future before April 30.

The midfielder, who turns 34 in May, signed a lifetime contract with the club earlier this season but a clause in the deal would allow him to leave for free if he so desires.

On several occasions he's spoken about not wanting to outstay his welcome at the club he joined as a 12-year-old, saying he would walk away if he felt he was no longer able to contribute.

Andres Iniesta came on for Ousmane Dembele at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

However, he remains a key part of Ernesto Valverde's side and his teammates are hopeful that he will stick around for next season.

"It's a personal decision but everyone hopes he will stay at Barca because he's a great person," goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen told reporters on Sunday.

"We know we need to keep going as a team until the end [of the campaign] and we need him now and in the years to come. We're focused on the present and he will take his decision when he has to.

"I hope he stays but he's the only one that knows. We know what a great person he is, how important he is to the club and we have to try and keep him here.

"It's a personal decision at the end of the day. We're going to support him because of course we want our captain to stay."

Iniesta has made 33 appearances in all competitions this season, including 22 in La Liga and six in the Champions League.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.


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