Ivan Rakitic revealed he was never close with either Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez during his days at FC Barcelona.
Rakitic recently ended a glorious six-year spell at Barcelona to rejoin Sevilla in a cut-price deal of €1.5m.
Despite his rather underwhelming ending, the 32-year-old was an essential member of the Blaugrana squad. He made 310 appearances at Camp Nou, managing 35 goals and 42 assists. Four LaLiga crowns, four Copa del Rey, and the Champions League all came his way.
There was also the rare privilege of aiding the talented Messi and Suarez in shattering countless defenses. But while the trio was a tremendous success on the pitch, there were rumors things weren’t so rosy off it.
But while acknowledging they didn’t share a close friendship, Rakitic insisted he holds nothing but respect for his former teammates.
The Croatian told El Desmarque: “I’ve said my side. My relationship with them was never one of my close friends. I believe that’s hard in a group of 23 or 24 players.
“My closest friends were Andres Iniesta, [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen, [Kevin-Prince] Boateng, and Junior Firpo last season.
“But I respect them both. They were my teammates for six years and are very important players. I’ve always got on incredibly well and have the utmost respect for them.
“During the coronavirus lockdown, we’ve all been very close together, almost neighbors. I’m very thankful for how they’ve treated me over the years.”
Raketa, thank you for EVERYTHING 👏🏼❤️🇭🇷🥈
— HNS (@HNS_CFF) September 21, 2020
Rakitic began life back at Sevilla in style last week by scoring the winner in a 3-2 friendly victory over Levante.
The midfielder, who captained the club to Europa League glory during an impressive spell between 2011 and 2014, is determined to experience further success in Andalusia.
His recent retirement from international football came as a mighty blow for the Croatian national team, but should aid him in prolonging his club career and in helping Sevilla achieve all their objectives for 2020/21.
Julen Lopetegui’s side will meet Champions League winners Bayern Munich for the UEFA Super Cup on Thursday after winning last season’s Europa League.
They will then meet Cadiz on September 28 for their opening game of the new LaLiga campaign and will visit Rakitic’s old club, Barcelona, at Camp Nou on October 4.