Barcelona seem poised to make their first big move of the summer transfer window with the imminent signing of playmaker Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla. The 26-year-old Croatian midfielder will move to the Camp Nou in a reported €20 million deal.
Rakitic is coming off the most successful season in his career, recording 15 goals, assisting 17 others, and captaining Sevilla’s Europa League winning campaign. With Rakitic as the maestro of their attack, Sevilla also finished 5th in La Liga, their best finish in his three seasons with the club. With the signing of Rakitic, Barcelona seem to be preparing for the alleged exodus of Cesc Fabregas to Chelsea.
Rakitic began his youth career at FC Basel, in his country of birth (Switzerland). As a teenager, he broke into the first team and scored 11 league goals during his final season with the club. Despite garnering interest from other European clubs, Rakitic was snatched up by Bundesliga club Schalke. While making over 100 appearances for the club, Rakitic built up his reputation. It was after his great play with Schalke that Sevilla decided to take a chance on him, and it paid off greatly.
Although he was a part of the Switzerland youth national teams, Rakitic decided to represent Croatia on the senior level. Choosing to represent the country of his parents’ birth has turned out to be the right choice for the midfielder.
He was a big part of the Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 campaigns, starting every match in the latter tournament. In 2008, he was the second youngest player in the entire tournament. Still, he played a vital part in the midfield along with Niko Krancjar and Luka Modric, and helped Croatia get to the semifinals.
In 2012, he was just as influential. However, despite his and Mario Mandzukic’s efforts, Croatia barely missed out on the knockout rounds, finishing just behind Spain and Italy. He also appeared in every 2014 World Cup Qualifying match for his country, helping them secure entry to Brazil via the playoffs. In 62 appearances for Croatia, he has scored nine goals.
Rakitic today admitted that he would be joining the Catalan giants in the coming days, telling Spanish newspaper Sport that “it’s a dream come true” to play for Barcelona.
Despite hoping Rakitic would complete a move to Champions League winners Real Madrid, Croatian teammate Luka Modric supported his decision, stating, “I’m very happy for Rakitic, he deserves it. Joining a big club like Barça is an important step in his career.
“Everyone has seen this season what he is able to do. He’s a great player who is progressing and I convinced he will be even better next season.
“Ivan is happy – he said – and for him to transfer to a big club like Barca also brings good things for Croatia.
“When you’re a Barca player, everything you do has a higher dimension and that is what will happen now with Ivan at the World Cup.
“Sevilla is a great club that comes from winning a European trophy, but Barcelona even more so.”
Rakitic is a very skillful and creative player who should fit into the Catalans’ midfield nicely. His passing, one of his greatest assets, will make him compatible with Xavi and Iniesta in the middle of the park. His pinpoint accuracy has led to many goals during his tenure.
He is also a dead ball specialist, as evidenced by his free kick goal against Macedonia in World Cup Qualifying. Overall, Ivan Rakitic is a potentially fantastic signing for a hungry Barcelona side.