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Getting to Know: Ivan Rakitić

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A look into Ivan Rakitić's career as a football player.

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Full name: Ivan Rakitić
Squad No.: 4
Position: Midfielder
Date of birth: 10 March 1988
Place of birth: Möhlin, Switzerland
Height: 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight: 78 kg (172 lbs)

Ivan Rakitić was born in the town of Möhlin, Switzerland, located just a couple of miles from the Swiss-German border to Croatian parents. Growing up in a family of footballers, his father and older brother played football, so it came as little surprise that young Ivan wanted to follow in their footsteps. Aged just four, Rakitić joined the football schools at the local FC Möhlin-Riburg. He spent the next three seasons learning the basics at his hometown club.

He was then noticed by Swiss powerhouse, FC Basel. Rakitić joined Basel's youth ranks at the age of seven and steadily advanced through the ranks until his turned 17. On 29 September 2005 he was entrusted with his first team debut in the UEFA Cup match against Široki Brijeg. After that match he was sent back to FC Basel II, and his next first team match didn't come until nearly seven months later in the Swiss League.

The next season things were different. Now 18, Rakitić was handed a large role. Playing in all but three league games that season, Rakitić was one of the standout performers for the team that missed out on the league title by a single point. He did, however, help lead Basel to the Swiss Cup title. In 43 games that season Rakitić managed to find the back of the net on eleven occasions. Add to that the two games he took part in his debut season in 2005-06, the Croatian appeared in 45 games for the Swiss club. He also played in 21 games for Basel II, scoring nine goals.

His excellent performances led to calls from bigger clubs and in June 2007 Schalke snapped up the youngster for €5 million. Rakitić hit the ground running in Germany, barely missing a beat. With his role slightly different from the one he was used to with Basel, Rakitić's goal production dropped, but he continued to impress his employers. That did not change Rakitić's entire stay in Gelsenkirchen, but with consistently good games Rakitić started appearing on radars of different clubs. Sevilla were in desperate need of reinforcements in January 2011 and decided the Croatian was the solution to their problems, ending his three and a half year stay in Germany with 135 games played, 16 goals scored and 29 assists.

Sevilla picked Rakitić up for a discounted €2.5 million, with the two agreeing on a four and a half year contract. Rakitić quickly won over the Sevilla fans, scoring six goals in just 16 games in the first half-season. Rakitić's influence increased from one season to the next with it culminating in the 2013-2014 season with him leading the Andalusian side to their first European title in seven years and best La Liga finish in three. Rakitić's three and a half year stay in southern Spain was very fruitful. In 149 games he scored 32 goals and added an impressive 41 assists.

With his contract running out Rakitić was lured by many clubs, but Barcelona won the sweepstakes, signing him for €18 million. He quickly became one of Luis Enrique's most trusted players and up to date he has already made more appearances than in all but one season in his career. In his Barcelona career so far he has made 45 appearances, scored six goals and assisted on another eight.

Born in Switzerland to Croatian parents, Rakitić had dual citizenship. He started his international career playing for Switzerland's under-age selections, making appearances for the U-17, U-19 and U-21 national teams. In 2007 however, he was called up by Croatia manager Slaven Bilić and Rakitić jumped at the chance to play for the birthplace of his parents. He made his senior debut on 8 September 2007 against Estonia, and opened his scoring account in his next international game. Since then Rakitić has been a staple in midfield for Croatia, appearing in 70 games over nine years, averaging exactly one goal per year.

Profile

Rakitić is a very physical midfielder that has experience playing in three different positions: defensive midfielder, central midfielder and attacking midfielder. By heart he is an attacking minded player but very rarely neglects his defensive responsibilities. Rakitić's passing and vision are excellent, leading to many assists, and he possesses a powerful shot that he can utilize from open play or from free kicks. He is also a very accurate crosser of the ball, especially from corner kicks.

Honors

FC Basel

  • Swiss Cup (1): 2006-07

Sevilla FC

  • UEFA Europa League (1): 2013-2014

Individual

  • Swiss Super League Goal of the Season (1): 2006-07
  • Swiss Super League Young Player of the Season (1): 2006-07
  • BBVA Fair Play Award (1): 2013-14
  • La Liga Team of the Season (1): 2013-14
  • Europa League Team of the Season (1): 2013-14
  • UEFA Europa League Final Man of the Match (1): 2014

Rakitić is now well into the first year of the five year contract he signed when joining FC Barcelona, a contract that will end in 2019.