Soccrates Images/Getty ImagesBarcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has said he has “given everything” during his time at Barcelona and wants to continue enjoying his football amid rumours Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan are interested in his services. Rakitic, 31, recently appeared on Movistar+ programme Universo Valdano (h/t Marca, via Football Espana’s Colin Millar), expressing his desire to play after starting just once so far this season:”I understand and respect the decisions of a coach, but I think I have given everything during these five-and-a-half years that I have been here and what I want is to continue enjoying my football.”I enjoy playing. I trust my football. I’m 31, I’m not 38. I feel at my best, I think last year was the best year of my career, when I wanted to enjoy myself the most.”It was after the World Cup last season was the best for me because I was at my best, and I’m working harder than ever. I’ve also set up a gym in my house, and I’m crazy about the details. I love football.”The Croatia international made his only start of this campaign in a 2-0 league defeat at Granada in September, when he was replaced by Arturo Vidal after an hour.Atletico and Inter are reportedly willing to meet the €40 million (£34.2 million) asking price, though Ernesto Valverde may want to keep hold of a player who tends to make an impact off the bench.Rakitic told Universo Valdano (h/t The Spanish Football Podcast) that being relegated from Valverde’s starting XI was akin to having his toy taken away:The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcastRakitic on his situation at Barça: “How does my daughter feel when they take her toy away? Sad. I feel the same. They’ve taken my ball away, I feel sad” https://t.co/jAaByyC5yUThe playmaker has been important to Barcelona since he joined the club from Sevilla in June 2014, making at least 50 appearances in each of his five full seasons at the Camp Nou. He started in 48 of his 54 appearances under Valverde last term.However, Frenkie de Jong’s €75 million arrival from Ajax this past summer has added a new regular to the XI. The Dutchman is one of only two outfield players to have appeared in each of Barca’s 12 league games so far this campaign (11 starts), with right-back Nelson Semedo being the other (10 starts).Sergio Busquets, Arthur and Sergi Roberto remain among the other frequent fixtures in midfield, while Arturo Vidal has been used as an option tooDe Jong is already a respected player in Catalonia, boosted by a nomination from France Football for the 2019 Ballon d’Or:France Football @francefootballAmong the nominees for the 2019 : Frenkie de Jong @AFCAjax
#ballondor https://t.co/pVojnMjPMuNorthern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill recently gave a glowing review of the playmaker after his side suffered a 3-1 defeat to Netherlands in October, via Omnisport:Omnisport @OmnisportNews”He will probably become the best midfield player in the world in the not too distant future.”
Michael O’Neill was rather impressed with #Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong as Northern Ireland went down 3-1 against Netherlands.
#NEDNIR #FCBlive https://t.co/5dIh1F2aIHRakitic has made 278 appearances for Barcelona and has a contract at the Camp Nou that’s due to expire in June 2021.