Iniesta and Xavi the only Spaniards that could have won Ballon d'Or, says Fabregas

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Andres Iniesta's Barcelona career appears to be drawing to a close and former team-mate Cesc Fabregas offered a glowing tribute.

Cesc Fabregas paid tribute to Andres Iniesta ahead of his expected Barcelona exit announcement, saying he and former team-mate Xavi are the only Spaniards who could have justifiably won the Ballon d'Or.

After weeks of speculation about his future, Iniesta will hold a news conference on Friday in which he is expected to reveal his imminent departure from the Catalan giants.

Although he signed a new "lifetime" contract in October, Iniesta has long been linked with a move away from Barca and is said to be closing in on a switch to Chongqing Lifan of the Chinese Super League.

While some have criticised such Iniesta's apparent decision to move to a lesser league, Chelsea star Fabregas – who has played alongside the 33-year-old for Barca and Spain – does not think it will tarnish his legacy.

Speaking on COPE's El Partidazo show, Fabregas said: "Whatever he decides, Andres Iniesta was a great football player.

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"When we won the World Cup, Iniesta played very well. Along with Xavi, Andres is the only Spaniard who could have won a Ballon d'Or."

Iniesta has spent his entire playing career so far at Barcelona, winning 31 trophies in 16 seasons at Camp Nou.

He has played nearly 700 times for their senior side, winning eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.