KEY POINTS

  • Ivan Rakitic spent six years with Barcelona
  • In 310 games with Barca, Rakitic netted 35 goals and tallied 42 assists
  • Rakitic revealed that he wasn’t close friends with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez

Midfielder Ivan Rakitic revealed that Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were not his close friends during his six-year stint in Barcelona. 

“My relationship with them was never one of close friends. I believe that's hard in a group of 23 or 24 players,” Rakitic said as reported by Goal.

The veteran player recently announced that he has played his final international game for the Croatian squad. In his stay with the national team, he was able to net 15 goals and tally 16 assists. 

“My closest friends were Andres Iniesta, [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen, [Kevin-Prince] Boateng and Junior Firpo last season,” Rakitic continued.

From 2014 to 2020, Rakitic served Camp Nou as a trusted midfielder who was part of the team’s success including a Champions League title and four La Liga trophies. Alongside Rakitic were Messi and Suarez leading the team to multiple accolades. There was good chemistry on the field with Rakitic facilitating the offense coupled with Messi and Suarez capitalizing on scoring opportunities. 

“But I respect them both. They were my teammates for six years and are very important players. I've always got on incredibly well and have the utmost respect for them,” Rakitic added.

The pair of Messi and Suarez is one of the more iconic figures in the organization.  The elite scoring abilities of Messi and Suarez were one of the key reasons why the squad was able to raise numerous titles. In 283 games, Suarez has netted 198 goals for Barcelona. For Messi, he's scored 634 times and has won the Ballon d'Or on six separate occasions.

Despite not being the closest in the group, Rakitic mentioned that they still keep in touch even during the global pandemic.

“During the coronavirus lockdown, we've all been very close together, almost neighbors. I'm very thankful for how they've treated me over the years," Rakitic shared.

Throughout Rakitic’s time with Barcelona, he played in 310 games and scored 35 goals to go along with 42 assists. The 32-year-old is looking to continue with his football career as a new arrival for Sevilla FC.

Ivan Rakitic Bacelona 2015 Midfielder Ivan Rakitic, right, notched a brace to lead Barcelona to Champions League Group E victory over BATE Tuesday. Photo: Reuters