Offered to PSG in a summertime attempt to recapture Neymar, FC Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic started the 2019/2020 campaign restricted to the bench while new arrival Frenkie de Jong took his place. Alongside Arthur, with assistance from pivot Sergio Busquets, the young Dutchman disproved his Croatian senior’s previous claims that his position in the plans of Ernesto Valverde would not be threatened, which had Rakitic appearing certain to depart in the currently open January transfer window.
Then, Brazil international Arthur was ruled out of action for a series of matches as a result of a pubis injury near the end of the year. Simultaneously, the emergence of a dangerous penchant for snowboarding and rumours of a wild private life circulated and also irked the top management at the Camp Nou. Rakitic found a way to live alongside De Jong, and the two also knocked impressive stats up alongside each other for completed passes, pass accuracy and recoveries in assisting Barça to remain top of La Liga, which they are priced at 6/5 to win at the moment by bookies, given they trail Real Madrid by three points. Barca are also at 15/8 to win the Copa del Rey, and Lionel Messi is at 5/18 to finish at the top of the goalscoring charts in La Liga; he leads Benzema by two goals at the moment. At the turn of 2020, it was reported that Rakitic, grabbing a second wind at age 32, had been taken from the shop window with Arturo Vidal, if anybody, the most likely to depart for Inter Milan.
With Valverde fired after the Super Cup semi-final exit to Atletico Madrid in Jeddah last week, it is safe to assume that Rakitic matches the mould of the kind of footballer new coach Quique Setien enjoys but might, yet again, see his future jeopardized at the Camp Nou. That is because, according to reports that have come through heading into the weekend, Juventus have seemingly reignited their interest in the World Cup finalist and are interested in a money plus player-exchange deal using Blaugrana target Federico Bernardeschi. A proposal that was put on the table between both parties in August before falling through has been revisited, where the Old Lady could exploit Barça’s need to raise close to $140 million by the end of June, and could give them a talent, who at 25 years old, has his peak years before him.
Valverde was not a fan of this potential transfer, as he was happy with the wide players at his disposal, but the introduction of his successor Quique Setien, plus a four-month absence imposed on Luis Suarez with a grave knee injury, has altered the landscape altogether. This will have a huge impact on their season, not just in La Liga but also in Europe, where they face Napoli in the Champions League round-of-16, and are priced at 11/2 to win the competition and at 1.00 to reach the semi-finals, largely due to Lionel Messi’s continued brilliance. Fans in the UK wanting to take advantage of these odds – your free bet is one click away!
Suarez’s injury will force Setien to recalibrate Barcelona’s attack, with Antoine Griezmann and potentially even Messi having to play in the centre-forward role, and Bernadeschi could help alleviate these issues. Bernadeschi has also been deployed as an attacking midfielder by coach Maurizio Sarri this season, which makes him more versatile than Rakitic along with being on the younger side. There is also the rise of La Masia graduate Riqui Puig to consider, with Setien reportedly fond of the youngster who could occupy a position in the middle of the park. With only 12 days before the window closes, could Rakitic be on his way out of the club after all?