It can really be frustrating being a player sometimes. Why? Because all players want to play but sadly only 11 players can be on the pitch for a team and that means only the best from a lot of options make that cut. When Barcelona signed Frenkie De Jong for £65m back in January (with the deal to be effective from July), the Catalan faithful surely had their thoughts racing at the plethora of options they would have in midfield. One man who would have been wary of the potential implications is 31-year-old Ivan Rakitic.
And now, the Croatian has said he will need to consider his future at Barcelona if he is not granted more playing time soon despite there being “no better place to play.” After five seasons as a first-team regular at the Camp Nou, the 31-year-old has found himself out of favour as Arthur and summer signing Frenkie De Jong have been preferred in midfield by manager Ernesto Valverde.
After rumours of an exit in the summer, Rakitic has started only one of Barca’s eight La Liga games this term and played only 188 minutes in all competitions (Transfermarkt). Speaking to Croatian outlet 24sata (h/t Sport), he said Cristiano Ronaldo called him in the summer to tempt him to Juventus, and Rakitic has explained he may have to look at options elsewhere if his situation doesn’t change.
“I don’t know what will come now. It’s tough because I want to play and not just be part of the team. I will do everything possible to change my situation. I have two years left on my deal and there’s no better place to play than Barcelona, the best club in the world but I need to play and not just enjoy walks around the city and the beach.
“I spoke with people at the club everyone knew I had other options. I want to fight so that the team see me ready to deliver on the pitch. I want to thank the fans for the affection they showed me this weekend, but if nothing changed, we will have to sit down and talk about my situation again.”
Rakitic is 31 but he has been consistently excellent for Barca since he joined them from Sevilla in 2014. There are a number of top clubs in European football who would benefit hugely from Rakitic in their squad yet Barca can afford to leave him on the bench.
One of those clubs is Manchester United, who are woefully short in midfield and have been linked with the Croatia international in the past.
Rakitic’s problem at Barça IS NOT QUALITY. it’s that he’s a straight-line player in a (now) three dimensional midfield. he’d fit in perfectly at United. https://t.co/M2KKKtPXwy
— Muhammad Butt (@muhammadbutt) October 1, 2019
Juve on the other hand arguably do not need any more players in the centre of midfield given they already have Aaron Ramsey, Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Rodrigo Bentancur, Adrien Rabiot and Emre Can in their squad. To make things even worse, the latter duo have recently voiced out on lack of game time under Sarri and are even considering their options outside of the club. Rakitic is quality but would he want to subject himself to such stern competition? Probably not.
Also, at 31, his age might be a let-down as managers might want to start younger players who can bring more pace and athleticism to the game. Juve already have a perfect blend of experience and youth and it would be unwise for Rakitic to think he would be a guaranteed starter with the Bianconeri.
While United might look a better option, the volatile state of the club at the moment means any new signing would come under serious scrutiny for an immediate impact. And that extra pressure could see any player crack let alone a player who was short on confidence and morale in the first place.
There is little doubt after Rakitic’s latest comments that if he continues to warm the bench up to Christmas, he will be linked to numerous clubs come the January transfer window.
It was recently reported by The Daily Mail that Barcelona would be open to letting him go as they need to raise £110 million in player sales to balance their books.
If that is the case, a Rakitic exit in January could be beneficial for all parties given whichever club he joins. No doubt any side would benefit from the addition of a La Liga, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Copa del Rey and FIFA Club World Cup winner. Manchester United would no doubt be closely monitoring his situation.