The Croatian playmaker finished his six-year spell in Catalonia earlier in the transfer window, rejoining former club Sevilla in a cut-price deal.

Rakitic has never been a close friend with Messi or Suarez

Ivan Rakitic admitted that he had never been a close friend with Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez during his time at Camp Nou. The Croatian playmaker finished his six-year spell in Catalonia earlier in the transfer window. He rejoined former club Sevilla in a cut-price deal. There have been reports that Rakitic did not get along well with the Barça star couple. But while he admits they weren’t close, he says he had nothing but respect for them. “My relationship with them has never been close friends. I find it challenging in a group of 23 or 24 players. My closest friends were Andres Iniesta, Marc-André ter Stegen, Kevin-Prince Boateng, and Junior Firpo last season. But I respect both of them. They’ve been my teammates for six years and are critical players. I’ve always had incredibly well, and I appreciate them a lot.

The Croatian announced his retirement from international football

“During the coronavirus lockdown, we were all very close, almost neighbors. I am very grateful for the way they treated me over the years”. Returning to the club where he had four successful seasons between 2011 and 2014, Rakitic will be entirely focused on his club commitments at Sevilla. He announced his international football retirement. “Saying goodbye to the national team is the most difficult decision in my career. But I felt that it was the moment when I had to break through and make that decision,” he said in a statement. “I enjoyed every game I played with my country. And unforgettable moments of the World Cup will remain among my favorite memories of my life”. Rakitić played 106 times for Croatia, scoring 15 goals and reaching the 2018 World Cup final.

Sevilla are set to start the 2020-21 season with the UEFA Super Cup against Bayern Munich on Thursday after winning the Europa League. With LaLiga already underway, they will be playing catch-up when they play their first domestic fixture in Cadiz on 28 September. They then play Levante before Rakitic returns to Camp Nou for an away match at Barcelona on 4 October.