Any working class scouser can talk your ear off about the Chinese Super League buying up top flight European football talent and shifting the transfer market. Likewise, any posh banker from Kensington will tell you that Chinese collectors are buying premium wine and spirits so fast that those markets, too, are shifting. Now, the two phenomena are colliding. New reports detail an effort from China’s Tianjin Quanjian club to lure footballer Andres Iniesta with a £35million-a-year contract—and millions of bottles of wine.
Media sources all over the continent reported the rumored offer with different details varying by publication. However, static in the reports was a clause that involved the team purchasing two million bottles of wine from a Spanish winery owned by Iniesta.
The 35-year-old midfielder currently plays for Barcelona, but his interest in wine dates back to his childhood in Albacete, Castile-La Mancha, the heart of Spanish wine country. His family also owned a small vineyard founded by his grandfather Jose Antonio, which Iniesta expanded to 740 acres when he was just 16-years-old. Then in 2010, the footballer purchased Bodega Iniesta and continued to expand the holdings and output.
Bodega Iniesta offers about 20 different wines. The range includes several rosés and sparkling wines as well as blended reds and whites. The property also produces cheeses and oils. One highlight of the line is Minuto 116, and homage to Iniesta’s extra time goal to lift Spain to victory over the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup.
The World Cup is not the footballer’s only piece of silverware. In fact, Iniesta has won just about every major competition in the football world, including the league title and the UEFA Champions League, during his tenure with Barcelona. He joined Barca’s academy system at the age of 12-years-old and played with the team during their glory years in the early 21st century.
However, following a season plagued by injury and contract set to expire, watchers expect the Spanish talisman to leave the Iberian Peninsula. The Chinese are not the only suitors. Etihad gaffer Pep Guardiola built up a close relationship with the player during his time at Camp Nou and Manchester City are expected to push a strong offer as well.