Ivan Rakitic hails Barcelona's big three
Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic feels he could be operating behind the three best players in the world this season in Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
After a disappointing 2013-14 campaign, the Catalan club, with new boss Luis Enrique at the helm, have made some major some moves over the summer to strengthen their squad.
That has included recruiting Croatia international Rakitic from La Liga rivals Sevilla, as well as spending 75 million pounds to add Suarez to a frontline that already features global superstars Messi and Neymar.
Meanwhile, Spanish rivals Real Madrid -- who finished third, level with on points with second-placed Barca, in the league last term but won the Copa del Rey and European Cup -- have also brought in big names, with Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez arriving to join the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu.
Speaking on Tuesday at the St George's Park National Football Centre in Burton upon Trent, where Barcelona are having a training camp this week, Rakitic was unwilling to talk about Real.
But regarding his own club's high-profile attacking trio, the 26-year-old said: "I think that these three players are maybe the best players in the world.
"I think from these players we can learn so much. We have to work together to be a strong team, a hard team."
It may be some time before the three play together in the Barcelona side, with Neymar currently recovering from the back injury that ended his World Cup with hosts Brazil, and Uruguay's Suarez serving the four-month suspension from all football-related activity he was handed by FIFA in June following his bite at the tournament on Italy's Giorgio Chiellini.
The ban means Suarez is not even taking part in training sessions with his new club for the time being, although, having seen an appeal to FIFA rejected, he has since gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and a decision is expected in August.
What emerges from that process remains to be seen, but Rakitic is keen to get working with the former Liverpool man and says he is "expecting that he (Suarez) can start soon with us."
Rakitic said: "I think he is one of the best players in the world, so of course, I would like it if he could be with us today or tomorrow.
"I am expecting that he can start soon with us and I hope that he will do the same things for Barcelona like he did for Liverpool."
Rakitic, who welcomed the news that fellow midfielder Xavi has opted to stay at Barcelona for at least another season, believes he has signed for a club that "have to win all the time" and "deserve to win games and titles."
He emphasised the extent of the work already being done toward that end as Barca go about their preseason preparations, which will see them working at St George's Park -- where they arrived on Monday -- through to Friday before they depart for France on Saturday to play Nice in a friendly.
And, certainly, Rakitic has been impressed by the Burton upon Trent complex, the England national team's base.
"I think it is unbelievable," he said. "Our national team in Croatia -- I think we will never have something like this.
"It is unbelievable and a perfect place for us to work. We are really happy to be here and we hope these five days we can work so hard to be ready.
"I will say one thing for English football -- they have something unbelievable and for me, as a Croatian player, I would like to have something like this in Croatia, but it is not possible."