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Iván Rakitić: The time to say goodbye?

Shahraiz Sajjad



Header Image by Imago

Iván Rakitić has spent nearly six years at the club and has been regarded as one of the most sensible signings from Barcelona as of late, but it may soon be time to say goodbye. Lately the Croat has been a mere shadow of his former self with him failing to deal with the rising expectations at the club. Has the time to bid him farewell finally arrived?

Iván’s story at Barça began with him winning the fans’ approval almost immediately. The long haired Croatian wasn’t perceived as a mega signing, but was absolutely crucial in Lucho’s treble winning season. There was a great deal of optimism surrounding him as he seamlessly made Xavi’s last season at Barça look less painful. The number 4 displayed exquisite intelligence, speed of thought and to the surprise of everyone, his lack of Barça DNA never stopped him from being an influential figure in midfield. Having had his moments to shine with Luis Enrique, the former Sevilla man then enjoyed his second best season in Valverde’s first campaign in charge. He performed significantly well in a defensive role, even catered to the coach’s requirements by adjusting to an unfamiliar 4–4–2 formation. Ultimately, by the end of the campaign, he proved to be one of the leading players alongside Leo, Ter Stegen and Busquets. Rakitić’s ability to control the tempo of the game, act as a tireless workhorse and read his surroundings so maturely earned him a lot of praise, which to this day, establishes him as a considerable servant to the club.

❛ Rakitić is one of the best signings Barca have made in their history.” “Every day he gets better, he knows how to adapt to what the team needs, and in every moment he lives a footballing maturity that is extraordinary ❜

Xavi on Rakitić

Woefully, that status of irreplaceable slowly turned to dispensable as he has been nothing but a shadow of his former self lately. It’s actually soul crushing to see him degrade so much ever since the previous World Cup ended, where he helped Croatia land a spot in the finals. Instead of those amazing outside the box goals or clever passes, spectators now get to see him lose possession in the most meaningless way possible. Apply some pressure on him and he’ll freeze as if a gun has been pointed on his head. He’s futile on the field and painfully unproductive in the center of the park. Rakitić, in his early years at Barcelona, was known to transition the ball with pace, though lately, he’s constantly been a victim of his pragmatic approaches and has often been the subject of criticism for prioritizing meaningless sideway passss that minimally contribute to the build-up.

❛ I ask for some respect. I’m not a sack of potatoes ❜

Iván Rakitić

What’s more is that he doesn’t understand why certain fans or people in the board want him to leave. He isn’t a sack of potatoes and nor does he deserve such pathetic treatment from the media, but at least he must realise that his time at Barça has come to an end. There have been very few instances where Raki has performed in this current term. Partner him with the likes of De Jong and watch the Dutchman overshadow him in every facet of the game.

Iván Rakitić Barcelona goodbye

Iván Rakitić was vital in the 2014/15 treble-winning season, even scoring in the final to Juventus | Photo by Imago

This summer, or whenever the upcoming transfer window opens, Barça must make the initiative of selling Rakitić as such a move will prove to be highly advantageous in the long term. Possessing the tag of experience and a big game player like Iván is certainly something one can’t take for granted, though, Barcelona has invariably been known for its trust in the youth and ability to provide youngsters like Riqui and Aleñá opportunities when they have done their absolute best to earn them. With the former Sevilla man taking a hefty spot in the squad, there is nothing but strain on the wage bill. His departure will not only help the club earn some much needed cash, but the spot he once owned will be vacant, allowing the prodigious midfielders of Barça to receive play time on a more consistent basis.

The prime of Iván Rakitić at Barcelona will forever be cherished but, unfortunately, those years are long gone and the goodbye may be approaching. It’s time the two parties finally go their separate ways and the board invests in youngsters, who should be aching to receive a first team spot by now.

See also

Barcelona, it’s time to bet on potential

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• Lionel Messi: Perfecting the role of the false 9

• Aleñá and Riqui Puig, finally trusted by Barça?

Watching our homegrown legends move the ball in such distinctive manner and experiencing the vast set of emotions it brought simply made me fall in love with this beautiful sport. Barcelona's elegant football taught me that you don't have to be an admirer of art to be lost in a whirlpool of colours. This club being one of the few teams that gave performances to savour week in week out obliged me into becoming an exuberant member of this fan base, and this ineffable love for Barça I had encouraged me to spread Barcelona's colorful craft with other football enthusiasts.



3 Players Barcelona can sell to ease their financial burden

Aaryan Parasnis



Photos via Getty

A debt of €1.173 billion, more than €700 million of which is short term, has sent FC Barcelona down a rabbit hole. The club’s gross mismanagement on both sporting as well as financial levels is no longer a secret. The former board of directors, led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu has consistently spent inordinate amounts of money on ludicrous signings. Most of which have come to bite the club back.

Now, they find themselves in a stickier situation than ever, with an astronomically high wage bill and multiple liabilities to clubs across Europe for signings. In addition, Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona hangs in the balance. If the club are to conduct any business whatsoever, it will have to begin by offloading a few players.

After Ronald Koeman arrived at the club following the disastrous end to the 2019-20 season, a few key names have already been sold. As the initiation of a rebuilding process, Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Nelson Semedo, and Ivan Rakitic were all sold. However, these departures have hardly put a dent in Barcelona’s debt.

That being said, Barça Universal takes a look at three potential sales that might help the club with their finances. Players who may not be key parts of the sporting project long term and whose departures will allow for some breathing room in the wage structure, and allow Barcelona to sign a huge talent such as Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland.

Samuel Umtiti

Big Sam no longer has what it takes to succeed at Barcelona. (Photo via Getty)

It would be a rather disappointing conclusion to what was potentially a wonderful signing. Samuel Umtiti, after signing for Barcelona, was rapidly rising up the ranks as one of the world’s best centre-backs. After his move from Lyon in 2016, he was flying high and quickly displayed why he staked a claim into the Blaugrana’s starting lineup.

But the Frenchman’s fairytale would come to an abrupt halt. After a fantastic second season with Barcelona, Umtiti suffered an injury to his left knee in 2018, just a month before the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The defender risked himself to represent his nation, and it ended up being a positive decision as France lifted the coveted prize with Umtiti as one of the key players. He decided not to have surgery as he felt it would worsen his issues.

Ever since then, despite his initial impressions, the injury woes have persisted and have led to many complications. Recurring issues with his meniscus, followed by foot injuries and many other issues, led to a massive decline in form and physicality. The centre-back was never really able to return to his brilliant best. While coach Ronald Koeman does favour the Frenchman, he is definitely not a consistently reliable presence at the back anymore.

Umtiti’s current deal with Barcelona expires in 2023, and given that he is 27 years old may work in favour of the club. He is not too old, and while he is injury-free, he could fetch Barcelona at least some money. The World Cup winner at his best is a fine player, but given the current circumstances, Barcelona can no longer afford to leave things up to chance.

Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho has not been on the same wavelength with his teammates for months. (Photo via Getty)

Philippe Coutinho came to Spain with tremendous promise for the fans, backed up by a huge smile on his face. He was genuinely happy to be where he was. His dream of playing for Barcelona was finally a reality. But that optimism sadly did not last far too long.

The midfielder slowed down tremendously in his first full season with the Catalans. He looked out of sorts and lost in strange and unfamiliar systems. When he arrived in January of 2018 from Liverpool, he became Barcelona’s most expensive signing of all time for over €140 million. After two bad seasons and a loan spell at Bayern Munich, he was finally beginning to show small signs of promise under Ronald Koeman this term.

However, the Brazilian has also been sidelined due to a lengthy injury this season, which has extended into worse news. In addition to that, Liverpool are reportedly one of the clubs that Barcelona still owe money to in variables for Coutinho’s transfer. They will be keen on avoiding any more liabilities. And since Coutinho has obviously not come anywhere close to providing a return on Barcelona’s investment in him, his time at the club may be up.

He is also one of the highest earners in the squad, therefore selling him might be imperative.

Sergi Roberto

The Remontada hero has been one of the constant under-performers for Barcelona. (Photo via Imago)

The midfielder turned right-back has been a polarising figure in the Barcelona fans’ eyes for quite some time now. The 29-year-old’s current contract with Barcelona is set to run out next year and has a release clause of a massive €500 million. Roberto has made some amazing memories with the club, most prominently, his iconic goal against PSG in 2017’s famous ‘Remontada’.

However, since then he has been more or less showing that he is mostly just a utility player. The Spaniard has been unremarkable in a fair few games and has often made rather costly errors. Over time however, he had certainly become one of the heavyweights in the dressing room, which obviously reflects in his salary. This season, he has been struggling with a thigh injury, which he recovered from but then relapsed.

He was a valuable asset to have in the absence of a full fledged right-back who has the so-called ‘Barcelona DNA’. However, with the arrival of Sergino Dest, parting ways with Roberto makes sense from both sporting and financial perspectives.

While Roberto might not be among the players who have constantly underperformed but selling him might be a logical decision for Barcelona because as a player who can play in multiple positions across the pitch, and is in his theoretical prime, the Spaniard will be in demand. Football today requires for players to adapt in various positions and roles, and we have seen Roberto’s capability with the same.

Additionally, as one of the captains of the team, the La Masia graduate might be able to lease off a more than decent amount of cash. Several top teams in the market, including Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and PSG, among others, might be vouching for a right-back soon and could look towards Sergi Roberto.

However, there are also more players like Jordi Alba, Junior Firpo and Neto who could be smart sales. Alba has also been declining rapidly but his offensive output has not yet been replaced. Firpo is already linked to a move away to various clubs after failing to impress at Barcelona. In a nutshell, the Blaugrana certainly have options to sell, in order to continue the rebuild effectively. Easing the financial load by selling and eventually making way for more sensible transfers will be vital for this transitioning side.

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