Ivan Rakitić has been flawless in his role as the central midfielder of Barcelona. Coach Ernesto Valverde showers him with so much praise after each game, Barcelona fans joke that Rakitić is Valverde’s cousin.
Barcelona central midfielder Ivan Rakitić is currently in the best form of his career. Not only has he been awarded the Barcelona captain’s band twice this season – for the first time against Leonese and the second against Tottenham in the Champions League, but he has also become the first Croat ever to captain the Catalan club, reports 24 Sata on December 29, 2018.
“It’s a big honor, but it has not changed anything. I was the captain of Sevilla, and that band did not change anything there. I remain the same, I live for football one hundred percent, and I always put the team first,” said Rakitić.
Rakitić is so attached to Barcelona; he has even rejected an impressive offer from PSG.
“I never wanted to leave. For me, the biggest thing I can do is defend the Barcelona Coat of Arms. My wife and children are happy in Barcelona, and there is no other place I would like to live. I feel the respect of the fans at every step, the respect of my teammates, leaders, coaches, presidents… And that’s the best for footballers,” added Rakitić.
Spanish statisticians, who stack the incredible data of footballers at the end of each year, found that Ivan Rakitić completed the most passes in La Liga in 2018. The new ‘King of La Liga’ made 2676 passes this year, of which 2436 were successful!
In the 4-3-3 formation which Barcelona has returned to this season, Rakitić is the central midfielder in charge of distributing the ball. The Croatian does his job so well that coach Valverde praises him so much after each game, the fans joke that Rakitić is Valverde’s cousin.
“I’m grateful to him for those words. We talk a lot; we have an excellent relationship,” Rakitić said.
In the last game of the first part of the season, Barcelona beat Celta 2:0 at home, pushing them to the top of the table. Rakitić was again one of the best for his team.
“It was a great end to this beautiful year,” he concluded.
The Croatian footballer is so good that, as fans on social media say, he inspired the design of Barcelona’s new shirt, which is identical to Croatia’s. The only difference, of course, is the color – while Croatia’s is red and white, Barcelona’s is red and blue.
Ivan Rakitić played 70 games this year, of which 22 were for the Croatia national team. The only player who achieved more games than Ivan this year was Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid. Griezmann collected 74 games this season because, unlike Rakitić, he was not injured.
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