Barcelona’s talented Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitić is rumoured to be a January transfer target for Manchester City.
We caught up with David Clarke from totalBarça to find out if reports of Rakitić’s regression at Camp Nou have been greatly exaggerated this season and whether there is actually any chance of him making the switch to the Blues in the winter transfer window.
TC: So David, first of all, what is the likelihood of this transfer actually happening in January do you think?
DC: I think the chances of Rakitić leaving in January are very very slim. Luis Enrique likes rotating his squad and I think he still sees Ivan as a starter in the big La Liga and Champions League matches, because he gives the team that extra bit of energy and tenacity which can be a massive help in these high intensity matches.
Pep left over two years before Rakitić joined. I can't believe how Sky Sports can be so unprofessional.
— David (@david4bcn) January 9, 2017
TC: The Croatian is rumoured to want to leave Camp Now to get more game time yet only Sergio Busquets has played more minutes than him in Barça’s midfield this season. Is there an issue there or has it been exaggerated by the press?
DC: I’d say Rakitić’s lack of game time has only been a recent issue, as he has been left out of the last three Liga games, being left on the bench against Osasuna and Espanyol, and more recently being left out of the squad entirely for a big game away against Villarreal. It definitely seems that Enrique is trying to introduce André Gomes into the team gradually, so this could be an issue for Rakitić.
TC: He’s also reportedly stalling on a new contract yet his current deal runs until 2019. Is there any truth in that do you think?
DC: Catalan publication Sport say that after Lionel Messi’s contract renewal has been agreed, Rakitić will be one of the next in line for a new deal. The Croatian signing a new deal still wouldn’t completely rule out the chance of a move but the situation is complicated as it seems likely that Enrique, who Rakitić reportedly has an iffy relationship with, will leave the club in the summer.
TC: There’s also been talk that he’s having his worst season for Barça this year. What’s your take on that?
DC: I’d probably agree with that. He’s struggled to really get off the mark this season, putting in somewhat disappointing performances in big games and showing a lack of attacking edge in games against defensive blocks. Rakitić has often been substituted when Barça are chasing games, being replaced with more attacking players like Arda Turan, Rafinha or André Gomes. In fairness to him, he has a very difficult job in covering the right side of the pitch, a side where Messi rarely helps defensively and where he has to help newly converted right-back Sergi Roberto, who lacks defensive quality at times.
TC: And finally, if this transfer does happen, what do you think he’ll bring to the Premier League and how do you see him fitting into City’s team?
DC: Rakitić sacrificed the creative side of his game when joining Barça, being utilised as a workhorse box-to-box player by Enrique. At Sevilla he showed he can be a very good creative outlet if he is in the right positions. I think the Premier League would suit his style of hard tackling, energetic football. Somewhere that he could let City and Guardiola down is control. Sometimes at Barça he has shown a lack of ability in small spaces, and his touch and short passing can be poor at times. I think Rakitić would be a great addition to City and really help them progress into what they want to become, and at 28-years-old (29 in March) he still has plenty to give.
Watch Dan Burke and David discuss Rakitić’s market value for Onefootball
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