Footballers and their craving for a particular shirt number is quite a story and every young aspiring footballer dreams to take over the shirt number of their childhood hero.
And needless to say, Ivan Rakitic is no exception either. Recently, the Croat revealed the driving force behind the selection of his Barcelona shirt number.
Ahead of their meeting in the UEFA Champions League clash against Manchester City, Rakitic was full of praise for Barcelona legend and current Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola. Speaking to The Times, Rakitic said that he rates the ex-Barcelona player and manager in very high regards.
The midfielder always dreamt of the number 4 shirt and on his arrival at the Camp Nou from Sevilla back in 2014, it was an easy decision for him to make regarding his jersey number. He inherited the No. 4 shirt from Cesc Fabregas, who returned to the Premier League with Chelsea.
The current Barcelona midfielder spoke about Guardiola and had this to say, “I was not at Barca with him but when I came I asked for the number 4 because it was his number. It was really special for me.”
Guardiola spent 11 long and fruitful years as a Barcelona senior team member, rising from the youth ranks. He came back to manage the Catalans in 2008 and achieved incredible numbers as a manager. Apart from the 3 League titles, the current Manchester City manager won 2 European titles, to add to his illustrious list of trophies.
Since his arrival, Rakitic has been excellent in midfield alongside club legend Andres Iniesta and complements the superb trio of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar brilliantly.
Rakitic praises Iniesta; calls Messi the best
The Croatian international further went on to praise his teammates, especially his admiration of Iniesta.
“I always feel Iniesta is dancing on the pitch. It’s like when you hear classical music. Every step, he’s dancing with the ball.”
On Messi and Ronaldo, Rakitic has no doubt in his mind that the Argentine is the best.
“If I can make Leo that little bit better, so I do it. Sometimes, I laugh on the pitch watching Leo's skill. If you want to see skill like that, you have to take PlayStation.”
“Of course I like Cristiano, he's a big player, and there are maybe 10 players really special and I respect them and I say to all of them, 'Congratulations,' but if we speak about the best, it is Leo Messi.”
Rakitic won the treble in the very first year and was instrumental in their Champions League triumph against Serie A champions Juventus, a goal in the 3-1 victory.