Rakitic: Right time to leave Sevilla
Ivan Rakitic has told kicker that leaving Sevilla for Barcelona after three-and-half years was the next logical step for Ivan Raktitic.
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Rakitic, 26, departed Sevilla for Barcelona in a 18 million euro transfer this summer after scoring 12 goals and setting up a further 10 in 34 appearances last season.
"I wanted to make this step," Rakitic told kicker. "Barca are one of the best teams in the world, with [Lionel] Messi, who is the best player in the world. It was a huge honour for me to captain Sevilla. But I felt that after three-and-a-half years at the club it was about time to make the next step."
The former Schalke midfielder was also linked to Real Madrid before opting to join Barcelona.
"I no longer want to talk about that," he said. "Barca gave me the feeling that I am a member of the family from the very beginning.
"When Barca came up, it all went really quick. Also because I wanted to have the respect of my Croatian teammates before the World Cup. Everything fit very soon, and I had the feeling that Barcelona wants me by all means."
Barcelona start the new season with several reinforcements made to their squad, but after failing to win the title last campaign. "The pressure is there following a year without a trophy, but it's Barca after all, and that's why it's simple: We go for everything, Barca want to win every single match," Rakitic said.
And the Croatia international hopes to be on the pitch for the majority of the time, amid competition with veteran captain Xavi for a place in holding midfield. "I want to work for that place on the team, even though it will not be easy," he said.
"I don't see it like that," Rakitic said, when asked about a rivalry with Xavi. "I will work hard, and I can and will learn a lot from him. How he moves, how he gets to the ball, that's admirable. If God wills, we will have a lot of games, and we will need every player."
"It's up to coach Luis Enrique where he wants to see me," he added, when questioned about his preferred position.
"He know that I am ready for everything. I just want to be on the pitch, and act. It does not matter where I play. Where I am needed. I played in holding midfielder, on the left wing and the number ten at Schalke, and similar at Sevilla where I played all positions in central midfield, and also at the side."
The midfielder named Real Madrid and Barcelona as the favourites to win the title, but made sure not to forget title holders Atletico.
"It's good that it starts now," he said. "I won't forget Atletico. They are the champions. I have a lot of respect for their squad, coach [Diego] Simeone, the complete club."