This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Ivan Rakitic has recently spoken to Movistar+ and talked about his current situation at Barcelona. The Croatian midfielder publicly expressed his sadness and discontent because he is not playing as much as he would want to. And considering he still has a lot to offer, Ernesto Valverde’s treatment does seem quite strange.
It’s not really easy going from being the guy who plays all the time to the guy who occasionally makes a cameo appearance.
All football players want to be on the pitch as much as possible and Rakitic is clearly not the exception.
But the Croat can only boast a total of 255 minutes of game time in the span of ten games he’s participated in across all competitions. By all means, this was a huge fall from grace for a guy who was Valverde’s most used player in 2018/19 campaign.
Watch Spanish Football Videos With StreamFootball.tv Below
And now, he finally couldn’t keep silent anymore and he opened up in a rather sincere interview with Movistar+ (quoted by Mundo Deportivo).
Here’s what he had to say in full:
“How can one enjoy? [By] Playing football. And it’s like I say many times, how does my little daughter feel when you take a toy from her? She feels sad. Well, I feel the same, they took my ball. I feel sad. And what I want is to be able to continue enjoying and that is the most important thing for me, then one enjoys only playing. I’m 31 years old, I’m not 38, and I feel at my best.”
With the recent emergence of Arthur Melo and the arrival of Frenkie de Jong, it was quite obvious that someone will have to be cut from the squad.
Sergio Busquets, even though ageing as well, is still an irreplaceable piece of Barcelona’s jigsaw and that meant Rakitic was the only suitable candidate to be dropped.
But this sudden change – going from most-used to almost never used – is rather strange if nothing else.
If Valverde never had any intention of playing Rakitic in 2019/20, for whatever reason, then why didn’t Barcelona make sure he was sold rather than just rotting on the bench and losing value?
A case could be argued about their bad management in the first place, seeing how they have a total of eight midfielders competing for three spots in the starting line-up. In such a scenario, players like Rakitic and Vidal or even the youngsters like Carles Alena and Riqui Puig, can’t even dream of regular football throughout the season.
But the Croat was cast out of the squad with no warning and no explanation.
It’s highly unlikely that Valverde suddenly realised he was no longer good for his team, after a whole 2018/19 of constantly playing the midfielder in his starting XI.
Even if they wanted to get rid of him, not giving him any minutes at all will hardly attract big suitors and it seems that they are handling this situation rather poorly.
Not to mention that Rakitic does make a point in his statement – he still has something to offer and he’s not obsolete just yet.
In 2018/19, Barcelona won 71% of matches with him in the team and only 50% of the matches without him.
Clearly he had an impact on their results and maybe his sudden exclusion could also be part of the reason they are struggling this year in the first place.