'The best is yet to come' - Rakitic not thinking about leaving Barcelona
Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic has insisted that he is not thinking about leaving Barcelona as rumours continue to swirl over his future.
The 31-year-old will enter the final year of his contract at the end of this season and has been linked with a number of clubs across Europe in the last few transfer windows.
However, Rakitic says that a departure is not on his mind and that he wants to remain a Barcelona player as long as he is being afforded game-time.
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"The most important question is whether I can play in Barcelona,” Rakitic said to Sportske Novosti.
“If I can play, I am sure that Barcelona is the best place for me. We will see what happens, but I am preparing to contribute as much as possible this year.
“I have been here for five and a half years and have lived my most important days in Barcelona. I am convinced that the best is yet to come.
"I don't think about anything more than Barcelona. Of course, in football you must be prepared for anything, but my idea is to be here.
“I am very happy and proud to be here. Many things have happened that cannot be changed, but my goal is to play and do it in Barcelona.
“I come to train happy, the smile has returned, and I want to play. I am determined to do everything possible to have the confidence of the club, the coaches, the teammates and the fans."
Having been used infrequently by Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde in the early months of the season, Rakitic has come back into the side as a regular starter and is enjoying playing regularly again.
"What has changed? I don't know. In recent months I have tried to do my best in every training and in every game. I waited for the opportunity, it came, and I want to take it.
“I am 31 years old, it is the best time for football and I want to play. It's the most important thing.
"No, [I have not talked to Valverde]. There is nothing to say, I think everything is clear. For me it is important to enjoy football.
“I am happy to go training in the morning and prepare for the game in the best way possible. In the end, it is the coach who decide who will play and how much."