When I think of Ivan Rakitic, I think of a real club man.
Someone who gave their all wherever they’ve played. Not just at a club to take what he can get out of it, but to put a decent amount of effort into it in order that the subsequent financial rewards are earned.
As he has aged his dynamism has often deserted him, but the abuse that he’s habitually suffered at the hands of some sections of the Barca supporter base is unpalatable to say the least.
The foreigner with the fourth highest number of appearances for the club, he has been consistence personified for the most part of his six years at the Camp Nou.
To focus on the latter part of his career at the club, where he was a little marginalised if truth be told, is to do him a disservice.
What of the player whose engine often saw him giving as much to the team in the final minutes of games as the opening minutes?
Whose goal at Real Madrid was crucial, whose acrobatic volley against Tottenham was sublime and whose goal against Juventus set Barca on their way to another Champions League triumph.
Lest we forget that he cost Barca just £15m. That’s a bargain by anyone’s standards.
An integral part of the Sevilla side who he rejoins ahead of the 2020/21 La Liga campaign, he slotted straight in at Barca and was an important member of the second treble winning squad.
I can’t think of a time when he let the side down or didn’t give of his best.
Perhaps he could’ve been sold earlier in order to allow the midfield dynamic to change, but that’s a moot point.
No one at Barcelona - players, staff or management - has had a bad word to say about the Croatian, which surely says a lot about how he was perceived from inside the club.
Indeed, when did you ever hear any bad press against him?
If he wasn’t in the team, he worked his ass off to get back into it. None of this bleating to the coach or leaking stuff to the press to put pressure on the coaching staff.
A real solid professional, the likes of which are sorely lacking in the modern game, he should be able to leave with his head held high and go with everyone’s blessing and well wishes.