Goodbye, Rakitić. 31 August, and, after Arthur, it seems like the second sale of Barça this summer is on the verge of completion. Rakitić is undergoing the medicals with Sevilla, who may pay no transfer fee to sign him on a 3-year deal. That said, Barcelona would save the player’s €8-million annual net wages since he is not in Koeman’s plans.
It was at Sevilla where he stood out between 2011 and 2014, being named captain and winning the Europa League in his last season, before Barça purchased him for €18m plus 3 in variables. His impact was immediate, being in the La Liga XI of the Month in September 2014, and becoming an indispensable piece as Xavi’s ageing legs saw him relegated to the bench often.
Rakitić did not look back, winning the treble in his first year at the Camp Nou and opening the scoring in the 4th minute in the 3•1 win over Juventus in the Champions League final. A reliable passer, a hardworking defender, a very accurate shooter. An all-round midfielder, he registered 8 goals and 10 assists in his first campaign, as Luis Enrique gave him a quite more offensive role than what he had taken up lately.
Starting in right midfield, he always had to compensate Messi’s movements, which led to his work being overlooked at times. Under Valverde he had to be more conservative, even in a double pivot, but even then he was very useful and an undisputed starter — until this term. 310 games, 35 goals, 42 assists and 13 trophies for the 4th foreigner with most appearances in Barcelona’s history. He came towards the end of Barça’s successful era, but his role was key in its triumphs. Gracias, Ivan!