Lionel Messi

Rakitic: There's only one number one player ever - Lionel Messi

The Croatian said he was fulfilling a dream of his to play alongside the mercurial Argentine during their time at Barcelona

11:16am on Friday 20th November 2020
Martin Macdonald

Ivan Rakitic believes Lionel Messi is the undisputed best player in football and "on another level" to anyone else who has played the game.

The pair enjoyed a hugely successful period at Barcelona together, winning four La Liga titles, one Champions League, and four Copa del Rey titles from 2014 to 2020 before Rakitic moved back to Sevilla in the summer.

Messi is regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest player ever to grace a football pitch, winning multiple domestic leagues, multiple Champions League titles, and six Ballon d'Or trophies.

For Rakitic, there is no doubt that Messi is the best.

"One hundred per cent football," the Croatian responded when asked by what the name Messi means to him.

"It doesn’t matter who you are, you just have to watch and enjoy this guy. He’s on another level.

"With all respect to the other greats, there’s only one number one – it’s Leo. To play 311 games next to him, it was a dream.

"I enjoyed it so, so much. I just want to say this: ‘Thank you for everything, Leo, because you’ll never know how much it meant to me to play next to you.'"

After the appointment of Ronald Koeman in the summer, Rakitic was deemed surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou and was subsequently sold back to Sevilla for a nominal fee.

He looks back on his time in Catalunya with pride, though, as he knows he is part of the history of the club.

"Six years, 311 games – the foreigner with the fourth-most games after Messi, Dani Alves and Mascherano – 13 titles. I think I can say that I’m part of the history of the club," he added.

"I got so much out of those six years. I will have Barcelona – the club, the city, the people – in my heart for the rest of my life. My family got bigger there – my youngest daughter was born in Barcelona.

"I’m really proud of my time there and will always cherish it."

Rakitic has already travelled back to the Camp Nou this season with Sevilla, who earned a commendable 1-1 draw at the start of October.

Los Nervionenses are currently down in 12th in La Liga.

Latest news

Player Ratings

North Macedonia 0-3 Netherlands Player Ratings: Depay celebrates Barca move with stunning display

Netherlands beat North Macedonia 3-0 to finish their Euro 2020 group with a perfect nine points, with Memphis Depay and Gini Wijnaldum starring.

  • 2 hours
Predicted XI

Kane keeps his place – How England could line up against the Czech Republic

Despite a difficult start to the tournament, Gareth Southgate has thrown his support behind captain Harry Kane.

  • 11 hours
Predicted XI

De Bruyne and Hazard to make first start – How Belgium could line up against Finland

De Bruyne and Hazard both came off the bench against Denmark but could start Belgium’s final group game.

  • 12 hours
Predicted XI

Changes from De Boer - How the Netherlands could line up against North Macedonia

The Netherlands have already secured top spot in Euro 2020 Group C so Frank de Boer may rest some of his players

  • 12 hours
Player Ratings

Italy 1-0 Wales Player Ratings: Verratti runs the show & Bale struggles as hosts top Group A

Roberto Mancini's side were already assured of a place in the last 16 but they made it three wins out of three with a narrow triumph.

  • 1 day
Player Ratings

Spain 1-1 Poland Player Ratings: Morata strikes as La Roja struggle

The Juventus striker netted the opening goal but missed a golden chance to seal three points as Spain are held to a draw.

  • 1 day

Most read