Former Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has sent an emotional message to club captain Lionel Messi. The Croatia international, who spent six years at the Camp Nou before returning to Sevilla in the summer, has made it clear just how special it was to play alongside the forward at the Camp Nou in an interview with FIFA.
It doesn’t matter who you are, you just have to watch and enjoy this guy. He’s on another level. With all respect to the other greats, there’s only one number one – it’s Leo. To play 311 games next to him, it was a dream. I enjoyed it so, so much. I just want to say this: ‘Thank you for everything, Leo, because you’ll never know how much it meant to me to play next to you.’
Rakitic enjoyed a phenomenally successful career at Barca. The midfielder won the Copa del Rey and La Liga four times as well as lifting the European Cup with Barca in 2015.
Indeed the Croatian was on target for Barcelona in the Champions League final win over Juventus in Berlin in 2015 and described just what it is like to score a goal on the very biggest stage.
Boom! Amazing. Your emotions in that moment are. . it’s crazy, crazy, crazy. You work your whole life for that moment and for it to come off, and to win this big title, it’s just a feeling that will never be destroyed.
Rakitic returned to former club Sevilla in September on a four-year deal and has become a regular under Julen Lopetegui.
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Rakitic Talks Barcelona ‘Family’
The former Barcelona man also spoke about what it is was like to sign for a team that contained not just Messi but stars such as Neymar, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and Luis Suarez at the time.
Not too bad! No, seriously, to be part of the biggest team in the world was indescribable. I will feel part of this big family for the rest of my life. I knew I was going to play with those players, I was really excited, but when I walked into the dressing room and saw them… it hit me, I was in awe. It was so enjoyable to play football with those players, and to have them as lifelong friends means so much to be. I’m really close to Andres, we speak a lot. I’m so, so thankful for those six years and I will never forget them.
Rakitic tended to divide opinion between supporters towards the end of his career at Barca, but there’s no denying the impact he had on the club. The midfielder won 13 major trophies in six years and is the fourth non-Spaniard with the most appearances for the club, behind only Messi, Dani Alves, and Javier Mascherano.
Focus on Messi Ahead of Atletico Clash
There will be plenty of focus on Messi ahead of Barcelona’s clash with Atletico Madrid on Saturday in La Liga, after the captain made his frustrations at the club quite clear again on Wednesday.
As reported by Mundo Deportivo, the captain was met by reporters at Barcelona airport after returning from international duty with Argentina and said, “I’m tired of always being the problem of everything at the club.”
Messi and Barcelona will be under pressure to get a result at Atletico. A win for Diego Simeone’s side would see them move nine points ahead of the Catalan giants and deliver a big blow to their title hopes.