Appearing as a substitute in Sevilla’s 4-1 victory over Espanyol at the weekend, Ivan Rakitic delivered another impressive performance and notched his 12th La Liga goal of the season.
With the Croatian’s contract expiring in 2015 and discussions yet to produce a new deal, competition is likely to be fierce for the signature of one of European football’s hottest properties. From the Premier League, Liverpool and Manchester United should be preparing to do battle in the summer over the Croatian attacking midfielder.
Sevilla President Jose Castro has recently rubbished rumours linking Rakitic with a move to Real Madrid and would be loathe to lose his club captain having sold Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo last summer. Speculation unsurprisngly intensified in the wake of the Croatian’s performance in the club’s recent victory over Madrid and that outrageous flick over Pepe.
Having recorded ten assists so far, Rakitic is one of only four in La Liga this season to have recorded double figure totals for both goals and assists. Sevilla’s captain was named Player of the Month for January and the time is now for the Croatian to establish himself at one of Europe’s elite sides.
Available for an affordable fee, Liverpool and United should be the Premier League sides most desperately jostling for the player’s signature. Both clubs would surely be viewed as attractive propositions and each would benefit enormously from the potential addition of the playmaker to their ranks.
Considering Liverpool’s free scoring nature, it may seem odd to suggest that the Merseysiders are in need of any more attacking talent. Whilst the ‘SAS’ partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez has delivered beyond all reasonable expectations, the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling have all pitched in with crucial goals. Brendan Rodgers has been able to seamlessly switch between numerous formations and still maintain his side’s goalscoring threat.
But beyond the usual suspects, Liverpool’s depth of options in an attacking sense have flattered to deceive. The likes of Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Victor Moses have all failed to make an impact in their time at Anfield.
Without the hardships of European football, Liverpool have been fortunate to avoid injuries to any of their key attacking personnel. But with Champions League football beckoning, Rodgers will know that squad strengthening in the summer will be required.
Having been utilised in several central midfield roles, Rakitic possesses the talent and versatility to flourish at Anfield. A confident passer who regularly shows for the ball and is physically strong, the Croatian could effortlessly slot into any of Rodgers’ formations. The signing of the Sevilla captain would significantly strengthen Liverpool’s attacking options and provide valuable competition for the likes of Coutinho and Henderson.
Unlike their free-scoring adversaries, United have been far more inconsistent in the final third. Injury has deprived David Moyes of the services of star striker Robin Van Persie for much of the season. Juan Mata has flourished recently when deployed in his favoured central role, but too often United have unsuccessfully focused their efforts from the wide areas.
With Shinji Kagawa seemingly unable to convince Moyes of his merits as a playmaker, the Red Devils’ creativity through the middle is limited beyond the club’s record signing. Tom Cleverley has failed to make any real impact in the final third and Marouane Fellaini has struggled to convince since making the move to Old Trafford.
A midfielder in Rakitic’s mould is desperately required at Old Trafford. Averaging 2.3 key passes per match according to Who Scored, the Croatian would provide a much needed goal threat and incisive presence from any of the central positions. Moyes should be considering the Croatian as one of many that United should move for in a summer rebuild.
Out of the Premier League’s elite, Liverpool and United are the clubs that would benefit most from the potential signing of Rakitic. Unsurprisingly, they have both been linked with moves throughout the course of the season.
At the end of the day, Sevilla’s captain could quite possibly choose to extend his contract at the club or make the move to either Atletico Madrid, Barcelona or Real. But if Rakitic decides that the Premier League is his next destination, Liverpool and United should be jostling to head the queue for his signature.