The Croatia international captured a second European title in as many seasons in May, adding to a Europa League triumph with Sevilla by winning - and scoring in - the 2015 Champions League Final for Barcelona against Juventus.
Born in Switzerland, the 27-year-old began his career in his homeland at FC Mohlin-Riburg and FC Basel, and it was with the St. Jakob-Park outfit where Rakitic caught the eye of Chelsea scouts. The playmaker plundered 11 goals in 34 league appearances for the 18-time Swiss Super League champions before eventually relocating to Gelsenkirchen with Schalke in 2007 and, later, Spain.
Speaking exclusively in the October 2015 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, Rakitic reveals why he turned down the Premier League champions, and how his decision was vindicated by what happened to another talented teenager.
“I wanted to stay at home,” he says. “I had a really special relationship with the president of Basel. It was much better for me to do pre-season with the first team there and then work my way gradually to the top. There was another guy in my situation, Jonas Elmer, who moved from Zurich to Chelsea at the age of 17. He ended up playing in the second division in Switzerland.
"Maybe that could have been me. I don’t want to say it’s always better to stay where you are in that situation, but my decision was to stay at home with my family and it worked well for me.”
Now older and wiser, does a future transfer to England tempt Rakitic, following in the footsteps of Croatia team-mates Luka Modric and Dejan Lovren?
“Of course, I like it very much. A lot of my friends are playing in the Premier League; it’s a different style of football and I always enjoy playing in Europe against English teams. Maybe one day I can play there, too.
“I like how every game is always intense and how everybody lives for football. You can have a game like Crystal Palace vs Stoke where both teams are strong, powerful, fully committed and the crowd are fully behind their team.”
Read the full interview with Ivan Rakitic in the October 2015 issue of FourFourTwo, in which he explains why Barcelona have to take care of Lionel Messi. The issue also features exclusive interviews with Chelsea midfielder Willian and Bayern Munich schemer Thiago, celebrates 60 years of the European Cup, hears from Raul in America and goes One-on-One with Jimmy Bullard. Subscribe!
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Gregg Davies is the Chief Sub Editor of FourFourTwo magazine, joining the team in January 2008 and spending seven years working on the website. He supports non-league behemoths Hereford and commentates on Bulls matches for Radio Hereford FC. His passions include chocolate hobnobs and attempting to shoehorn Ronnie Radford into any office conversation.
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