UEFA Champions League: Silent warrior Ivan Rakitic vital cog in Barcelona side

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With the Blaugrana favourites to reach the final at the expense of Liverpool, there is no denying the importance of the Croatian in midfield...

Barcelona are looking to reach the final of the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2015. A 3-0 result in the first leg of their semi-final against Liverpool at home only makes their case stronger as the Catalans head to Merseyside for the return leg.

In an already stellar season, Ivan Rakitic has remained an irreplaceable figure in the Barcelona side as the contribution from the Croat in midfield has been immense in a team full of stars.

While it's Messi who has grabbed the attention, midfield general Rakitic would probably be one of the first names on the team sheet for manager Ernesto Valverde.

Mohamed Salah Ivan Rakitic Barcelona Liverpool UEFA Champions League semi final 2018-19

He has already racked up 50 appearances during the course of the season. Valverde even put him on as skipper in one of the early Copa del Rey match against third-division side Cultural Leonesa.

Barcelona paid £16.2 million for Rakitic in 2014 and five seasons on, it seems to have been an absolute bargain. Rakitic musters up all kinds of roles in midfield as dictated by the manager. More often than not, he starts on the left of the midfield three but can assume any position as the game requires.

When Sergio Busquets was injured for a few games this season, Valverde trusted Rakitic to play in defensive midfield role over Arturo Vidal. While defence was never a natural trait for Rakitic, he has developed it over the years at Barcelona, giving Valverde an extra sense of security.

Ivan Rakitic Lionel Messi Barcelona Real Madrid

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Barcelona Vice President Jordi Mestre has confirmed that Rakitic will be going nowhere despite the arrival of Frenkie de Jong in the summer, and why should he go? His link-up-play with Lionel Messi is what has kept the Catalans ticking more often than not. Four out of his nine assists this season has been for Messi, to go along with five goals to his name.

Without the 31-year-old, the Blaugrana have lost three in six games this season. As Barcelona go one step closer to a treble at Anfield, Rakitic has been worth his weight in gold.

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