Ivan Rakitic’s situation at Barcelona has been uncertain for a while now. The Croatian has been a highly faithful servant for the club ever since he arrived from Sevilla. Over the years though, the guarantee of him starting every game has been reducing.
The midfielder’s value to Barcelona can’t be underestimated even today. He has made two starts this season, coming on from the bench seven times. During this time, he has one assist to his name. He has also featured four times in the UEFA Champions League, with one of them a start.
The likes of Inter Milan, Manchester United and AC Milan have drawn links with Rakitic. But his recent start in defensive midfield against Atletico Madrid seems to have confused the midfielder.
In an interview, he recently said: “I want to try to change things. If you feel bad or sad, you must leave. I don’t know what will happen, but there’s no better place to play than Barcelona.
“I want to give my best. If it can be here, then much better. I said the ball was taken off to show how much I like football, but if I can play there is no better place than Barca.
“What I want to do is have fun and do my best because I still have a lot to give. I have the confidence of teammates and if the coach puts me in, I understand that it will be like that. I have to keep improving and I don’t understand the situation, because I want to play.”
These comments show that things are very much unclear. To not just Rakitic, but to Barcelona as well. In the absence of Sergio Busquets, he came in and didn’t do too well.
The former Schalke man won two tackles, winning one interception. But Rakitic was dribbled past three times and lost the ball once. He lost two aerial duels too- against a physical Atletico side. And while Barca did win the game, Rakitic wasn’t at his best. But in what isn’t his usual position, it was probably a given.
Rakitic wasn’t special in Barca’s 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund either. He played in the right side of the central midfield, with Busquets playing behind him and Frenkie de Jong on the other side of midfield. Rakitic got dispossessed twice, failing to make a single tackle.
Against a very quick Dortmund side, Rakitic could not cope up. He was good on the ball, boasting of a passing percentage of 91 percent. But off the ball, it wasn’t promising at all.
Even against Granada, Rakitic endured a struggle. He was dribbled past as many as thrice. It was another slack performance off the ball. He was taken off in the second half for a more aggressive player in Arturo Vidal.
It shows that Rakitic isn’t the player he was. He isn’t as quick and age is quickly catching up with him. It is normal, but his comments won’t help him. If he wants to stay at Barcelona, things can’t go on like they are.
And Barcelona’s approach won’t help either. How they used him as a starter in a huge game shows that they aren’t completely sure too. They have clarified their stance and shown that they have better players than him. Because he isn’t doing enough to play or start against Atletico or Dortmund.
Rakitic’s contract expires at the end of the season. There is no shortage of interest. Things are not on the up at the Nou Camp and the game seems to be too quick for him. A slower league like the Serie A would help him. But he needs to stop complicating things for himself. And Barcelona have to take a stance.