7 things you should know about Ivan Rakitic
Ivan Rakitic has been one of the brightest players for Barcelona in recent timesWhen you are asked to fill the void left behind a player of the calibre of Xavi Hernandez, the smart money will always be on you wilting under the weight of expectations. Xavi is a once in a generation brand of playmaker, the sort that can define a playing style with his presence crucial to it such that without him, the chances of failure shoot up.Xavi was the brain behind the execution of Barcelona’s famed Tiki Taka philosophy, death by football to the extent to which opponents are submitted into surrender by simply keeping and distributing the ball such that every facet of your defense is tested. The man who controls the tempo of the way the ball is played is key and Barca were expected to feel the loss of Xavi in more ways than one.Step up, Ivan Rakitic, an unassuming fellow fresh from a career-defining stint at the Andalucian outfit in Sevilla that surged to prominence with back to back Europa League conquests across 2012 to 2014. Brought in to pursue the operation of replacing Xavi, a task once entrusted to La Masia products, Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara, Rakitic had big boots to fill.After a season of learning and settling in, Rakitic has since gone on to become crucial to Barcelona’s revised style under Luis Enrique. Ivan with his energy, concentration and work rate in addition to his impeccable distribution ability has become a key cog in the domineering Barca machine. So, do we really know him all that well?Here are seven things you should know about a player many would say is a cult hero in the making at the Camp Nou.
#1 Started his career in Switzerland
Born in Aargau in Switzerland, Rakitic went on to rise through the ranks at FC Basel after initially playing for FC Mohlin-Riburg. Playing through Basel’s youth squads, he became the focus of attention for the Swiss footballing associations, who keenly followed his career trajectory with interest.
The hope was that in Rakitic, the Swiss had another gem to add to their blossoming generation of talented footballers. He made his debut for the Basel senior team in 2005 aged 17. He went on to establish Basel with pedigree across his second season making 33 appearances which made the big teams in Europe sit up and take notice.
During this time, he turned heads across the board with his keen ability on the ball. It was after the season ended that Ivan took the next step, signing for the esteemed squad at Schalke in the German Bundesliga, the club where he went on to make a big name for himself leading to interest from all over Europe’s stalwarts.