Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic admits he feels ‘sad’ at the club after losing his place in the starting XI.
The Croatia international has made almost 300 appearances for the Blaugrana since joining from Sevilla in 2014, winning four La Liga titles, four Copa del Reys and a Uefa Champions League crown.
However, Rakitic has started just one La Liga game so far this season having lost his place to younger midfielders such as Frenkie de Jong and Arthur.
The 31-year-old is being heavily linked with the Manchester United, as well as Serie A clubs Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan, and admits he feels ‘sad’ at the lack of playing time being afforded to him at the Nou Camp.
“How can I have fun? By playing football,” Rakitic told Movistar+, as reported by Football Italia.
“And it’s like I often say, how does my little daughter feel when you take a toy away from her? Sad.
“Well, I feel the same. [Barca] have taken my ball away from me and I’m sad about it.”
Although Rakitic says he ‘respects’ the decisions of manager Ernesto Valverde, he has hinted that the role he’s played in Barcelona’s successes over the years, as well as the fact he’s yet to advance into his late 30s, should grant him more time on the field.
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“I understand and respect the decisions of the coach, club or whoever, but I think I’ve given a lot in these five years,” he added.
“What I want is to continue having fun, that’s the most important thing for me. I can only have fun by playing.
“I’m 31 years old, not 38, and I feel like I’m in my prime.”
Where could Rakitic end up?
Despite losing his place in the Barcelona midfield, the fact remains that Rakitic is an immensely talented player with over 106 caps of international experience under his belt, as well as appearances in Champions League and World Cup finals.
It’s no surprise, then, to see so many stellar names being linked with his signature, but which club would suit Rakitic the most?
- Manchester United: Even with Scott McTominay’s emergence this season, United are desperately short in midfield. Paul Pogba’s long-term future is in doubt as Real Madrid rumours keep bubbling under the surface and, in any case, the Frenchman has struggled with injury this season. Fred has completely flopped at Old Trafford, so you could easily make a case for Rakitic walking into Solskjaer’s midfield. The main downside would be the lack of Champions League football.
- Inter Milan: Inter look like a new animal under Antonio Conte and are pushing Juventus hard in the Serie A title race. A move here would see Rakitic link-up with international teammate Marcelo Brozovic and, although Inter have a tough task on their hands to make it beyond the Champions League group stages, they’re almost certain to at least be in the Europa League beyond January. Brozovic is the only deep-lying midfielder to play more than five Serie A games for the Nerazzurri this season, so more options are clearly needed.
- Juventus: This is by far the most outlandish of the Italian clubs linked with Rakitic. The Old Lady already have Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Aaron Ramsey, Rodrigo Bentancur, Adrien Rabiot and Emre Can to call upon in midfield and are more likely to offload players rather than bring more in. Rakitic would always back himself to push his way into any side but might be better served looking elsewhere rather than stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
- AC Milan: According to reports, AC Milan chief football officer Zvonimir Boban is working hard to seal a transfer for his compatriot. The Rossoneri continue to struggle and currently sit all the way down in 14th place in the Serie A table. Franck Kessie is the only deep-lying midfielder to play more than seven league matches for the club this term and despite ranking fifth in Serie A for successful passes (5,025), Milan are currently 11th for losses of possession (1,522). Something isn’t quite clicking for Milan and Rakitic could come in and offer a calm and controlling presence in the midfield.