Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic has seen it fitting to offer an insight into the controversy shrouding the much-discussed relationship between Barca’s frontmen Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
Having spent six years at Barcelona with Messi and one with Griezmann – winning four LaLiga titles, four Copa Del Reys, two Spanish Super Cups, one Champions League, one European Super Cup and one Club World Cup – Rakitic was close up with both forwards and said the pair actually have a good relationship, contrary to spurious reports and rumors saying to the contrary.
“What I saw was that they got along very well,” the Croat told El Pelotazo on Canal Sur Radio.
“I got along wonderfully with [both] Antoine and Leo. The two mates drink together and spend a lot of time together in the dressing room.
“If the both of them start to score goals there will be no more talk – that’s the requirement and expectation of a great team like Barcelona. I don’t worry, though, because they’re two spectacular guys. I wish them all the best.”
Rakitic left Barcelona to return to Sevilla, the club he captained with much success between 2011 and 2014 and the city in which he met his wife, Raquel. The Croat’s attachment to Seville and Andalusia is intimate as he speaks Spanish with the accent of a local.
The 32 year-old has adapted his playing style to consider his advancing years. “I’m going to have to be measured in what I do on the field,” he said.
“It’s normal – I need a little time [to adapt]. Barcelona isn’t the same as Sevilla. They play differently. We are very competitive and one always wants to play.
“I feel like a kid. I feel very well, and muscle injuries haven’t touched me so far. I take care of myself, and I have come [to Sevilla] with the dream of getting the best out of myself.
“You have to find the rhythm, understand your teammates and ensure they understand you. Every day and every week we’re getting better – the last two weeks, especially, have been important for me.”
Although Sevilla are by no means enjoying a scintillating campaign – with the Andalusians currently sitting 12th in the league table, ten points behind league leaders Real Sociedad and just four from bottom-placed Huesca – Rakitic’s calm composure is admirable.
“We’re doing well,” he said. “We’ve been better in the Champions League than the league but for small details – we haven’t lost our heads. We have to improve, of course, but we’re doing a lot of things well. I think the year is going to go very well, really.”
First up for Sevilla after the international break are visitors Celta Vigo, before trips to Krasnodar in Russia and and Huesca. Los Nervionenses will be hoping hard to recapture momentum, and fast.