By Kris Voakes | International Football Correspondent
While the signing of Luis Suarez from Liverpool stole the headlines in Catalunya this summer, one addition which has passed under the radar could prove to be one of Barcelona’s key moves of the transfer window.
Ivan Rakitic’s arrival was met by much less pomp and circumstance than that of the Uruguayan among the Spanish press, yet they know as well as anyone the impact the Croatian can have following his magnificent performances at the heart of a Sevilla side which lifted the Europa League title last season.
And the midfielder is primed to make a huge impression according to his countryman Robert Prosinecki, himself a former star of both Barca and Sevilla.
“I believe [he will do] okay. Barcelona didn’t buy him to sit on the bench, and their coach Luis Enrique has a vision in which Rakitic takes an important place because he was the one who wanted Ivan,” Prosinecki told Goal.
“Ivan had a brilliant season at Sevilla, and they expect nothing less from him at Barca. There will be no problems for him in terms of adapting to playing alongside the best players in the world, including the cannibal Suarez, who is among the world’s best strikers.”
Rakitic ranked 12th in the 2013-14 Goal 50 thanks to his stand-out displays with the Rojiblancos, with many observers marking him out as the best central player in Spain. He revelled in being the most creative star in Unai Emery’s squad, with many of the team’s best moments being born at the feet of the 26-year-old.
|"Barcelona didn't buy him to sit on the bench, and Luis Enrique has a vision in which Rakitic takes an important place"
- Robert Prosinecki
And while his exact role in the Barca team has yet to be clearly defined, Prosinecki is sure the ex-Schalke star can turn his hand to whatever new boss Luis Enrique has in mind for him.
“There have been many discussions about him playing defensive midfielder. He can play there, but not in the Croatian national team,” Prosinecki continued. “I don’t see it happening at Barcelona either, with Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano all there.
“But I would love to be in Ivan’s position. I love players that know everything about football, and there are plenty of those at Camp Nou. We all talk about them, but this time the key will be Luis Enrique.
“He has been through Barca’s youth programme, so he knows their style of play and he was a smart player himself. The pressure will be big, but that is a special privilege and something to revel in.”
Rakitic and Croatia went out of the summer showpiece in Brazil early, with a thumping victory over Cameroon falling between two 3-1 defeats to Brazil and Mexico. But, despite being part of an underwhelming campaign, Prosinecki believes Rakitic and captain Luka Modric would not necessarily have been out of place in the debuting national team of 1998 which memorably reached the World Cup semi-finals.
“If you ask me, Zvonimir Boban and myself covered their positions, so there would hardly be the space,” added Prosinecki, who was coach of Kayserispor until 2013. “We can only discuss whether Rakitic would earn a place instead of Zvonimir Soldo or Krunoslav Jurcic as a defensive midfielder.
“It is hard to talk about that, but they are undoubtedly great players because it is not easy to get into the side at a Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich.”
Rakitic spent three years with Sevilla after previous stints with Basel and Schalke, and left the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to the sound of high praise from former coach Emery.
“It’s time to thank Rakitic for his commitment, professionalism and his Sevillismo,” Emery explained on his personal website.
“He is an example both on and off the field and, for me, it has been an honour to coach a player like him.”
With ringing endorsements from both Seville and Croatia, much can be expected of Rakitic once he gets to work in Barcelona.Follow Kris Voakes on