“I understand the situation but I’m not a sack of potatoes who you can do anything with.”
Earlier this week, Ivan Rakitic voiced his discontent with the Barcelona hierarchy, suggesting he is being treated like “a sack of potatoes” amid doubts over his future.
The Croatian midfielder has found a starting spot hard to come by this season, the combined result of him having turned 32 in March and the arrival of Frenkie de Jong last summer. De Jong is understandably seen as the future of Barcelona’s midfield, but Rakitic is still hopeful he can play a role for the club.
That said, it sounds like the former Sevilla and Schalke midfielder is willing to leave if there is no place for him at Camp Nou.
“I want to be somewhere I feel wanted and respected,” Rakitic told Mundo Deportivo. “If that’s here then I’ll be delighted but if it’s somewhere else then I’ll be the one who decides where, not anyone else.”
Rakitic is likely to have a number of options if he does decide to move on, some more alluring than others. So where could he end up?
Dream: Juventus / PSG
According to the Guardian, Rakitic turned down the chance to sign for PSG as part of the proposed deal that would have seen Neymar return to Barcelona last summer. Neymar, of course, remained in France, partly because of Rakitic’s reluctance to make the move.
Whether he would still be reluctant is up for debate. There are only a few clubs who can match Barcelona’s stature – i.e. clubs capable of challenging for the Champions League on a yearly basis – and PSG are one of that select group.
Juventus could also be included in that category. Indeed, Rakitic would surely jump at the chance to play with Kylian Mbappe at PSG or Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus, a level of quality you simply don’t get at other clubs. If Rakitic wants to remain among the elite, these clubs are his best options.
Squawka Suggests: Juventus
Rakitic may have upset PSG by rejecting them last summer, so Juventus might be a safer bet. What’s more, winning trophies in Italy is seen as a bigger achievement than in France, which might given him that bit of extra incentive to choose Serie A.
Realistic: Man Utd / Inter Milan
The man himself might disagree, but it was inevitable that regular minutes at Barcelona would eventually prove elusive. Rakitic simply isn’t at his peak anymore – but that doesn’t mean he is no longer worthy of playing for an elite club.
Indeed, the likes of Manchester United and Inter Milan would surely be keen to add him to their squads. Inter could do with Rakitic’s title-winning experience if they are to challenge Juventus next season, and United’s may have an opening in their midfield if Paul Pogba departs in the near future.
Though United and Inter might be seen as a step down from Barcelona, either destination would provide Rakitic with similar wages and ambitions to lift silverware.
Squawka Suggests: Inter Milan
Though United are realistic in terms of the size of club Rakitic might choose and have previously been linked, they seem to be moving away from their philosophy of bringing in established “big name” players, which might sway Rakitic towards the San Siro.
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Wildcard: Sevilla / Schalke
If United and Inter are seen as semi-steps down, a return to one of his former clubs would be more of a major descent for a player entering the twilight years of his career. But there is, perhaps, genuine justification for Rakitic to make a return to either Sevilla or Schalke.
Both clubs are currently lacking that one star player who would help them to close the gap on the clubs above them or move away from those around them. Sevilla are currently in third La Liga but their Champions League spot is far from guaranteed – Rakitic’s presence would certainly aid them right now.
As for Schalke, former Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner has done a remarkable job in steering them to sixth place after multiple mediocre prior campaigns, but they would without question be pushing for a top four finish with a few bigger names. The question is: are either Sevilla or Schalke willing to make Rakitic their statement signing this summer?
Squawka Suggests: Sevilla
Moving back to Sevilla would allow Rakitic to stay in Spain for one thing, but they also come with slightly more esteem than Schalke, regularly competing in the Europa League and possibly the Champions League next term.