Ivan Rakitici's future remains tied to 'Barcelonismo' as, unlike with what happened with Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain's riches weren't enough to lure the Croatian away from the Camp Nou. Rakitic gave them a firm 'no'.
The Croatian is convinced he made the best decision for his career and his family and explained the motives behind it to SPORT. He also spoke about the new objectives at the club, with the Champions League at the top of many's wishlist, and the chances of seeing a renovated and fit squad. At 30 years old and after a fine World Cup campaign, Rakitic offers a certain stability to this side.
- In the end, you decided to stay with Barça despite PSG's offer. When and why did you make that decision?
It wasn't a specific moment, but rather a reflection on things. There had been a few days where people had spoken a lot about me and, honestly, there was a moment that I didn't want to hear, see or read anything else. I thought about it, spoke with my wife and agents and we all reflected on the situation.
- What was more important: your family, football or the money?
I listened to my wife and my heart and I realised that I'm very privileged to wear Barcelona's shirt. To defend this badge is the greatest honour. There isn't a team in the world who could give me more, unless it's money. My eldest child has been at their school for two years and she has her friends. The youngest is about to start preschool. We're very happy here and in that regard it was a very easy decision to make. I'm proud to continue at Barça.
- Would you have understood if the club had accepted PSG's offer?
If that had been the case, then we would've talked. We'd need to see what was best for everyone and if the club had approached it that way, then maybe my reaction would've been different. The most important aspect is that we can work together and that what might be good for me, might be bad for the club. The most important thing is we want to continue working together. I feel very wanted by the people at this club and the supporters. That's why I made the decision so quickly.
- The season has just started but it appears the general consensus is: the main objective for Barcelona this year is to win the Champions League, to perform on Europe's biggest stage again.
Yes, but it doesn't count for anything if we go out at the quarter-finals or semi-finals. The most important thing is to win it. Every year here, at Barça, the objective is to win every competition we enter. In the last three years we haven't been the best side in the Champions League. For that reason we're so keen to win it, but we know that it won't happen unless we win LaLiga as well. We have a great squad but it's only just begun. We'll try and do our best, enjoying ourselves and improving as the season goes on.
- Will your role in the team remain the same, or will it be common to see you in a more defensive role?
That's up to the coach. He knows the team perfectly well and where everyone prefers to play and also what is best for the team. The most important thing is that we do our jobs well: we want to win every game and that means everyone giving all they've got. In my case, whether that's as an interior or as the pivot. Then, whether it's 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 it doesn't really matter. It doesn't change much because when you play with Lionel Messi, a part from everything being much easier, he plays with a freedom and controls the whole attacking zone. He could be behind the main striker or on the wings, even dropping back to take the ball off the defenders. The most important thing we must remember is to keep our shape and balance, so that everyone is able to perform well.