Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic heaped huge praise on Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi and called him the ‘only number 1’ in football. Rakitic, who has joined Sevilla this summer, played alongside Messi for six years at the Blaugrana. The duo won several trophies together including La Liga titles and Champions League trophy. Also Read - We Hope Lionel Messi Can Be Seduced Into Staying at Barcelona: Gerard Pique
Rakitic claims playing alongside Messi was a dream and thanked the Argentine. Messi has won record six Ballon d’Or and is considered amongst the greatest players to ever play the game, however, Rakitic feels that the Argentine is on another level. Also Read - Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo Pay Heartfelt Tribute to 'Eternal' Diego Maradona
“One hundred per cent football. It doesn’t matter who you are, you just have to watch and enjoy this guy. He’s on another level. With all respect to the other greats, there’s only one number one – it’s Leo. To play 311 games next to him, it was a dream,” the Sevilla midfielder told FIFA.com. Also Read - FIFA Best Football Awards 2020: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar And Robert Lewandowski Feature in Nominees' List
“I enjoyed it so, so much. I just want to say this: ‘Thank you for everything, Leo, because you’ll never know how much it meant to me to play next to you,” he added.
The 32-year-old further talked about his six-year-long spell at Barcelona and said after winning 13 titles he is part of the history of the club.
“Six years, 311 games – the foreigner with the fourth-most games after Messi, Dani Alves and Mascherano – 13 titles. I think I can say that I’m part of the history of the club,” he added.
Rakitic said that the club, city and the people will remain in his heart for the rest of life as he is proud of his time at Barcelona.
“I got so much out of those six years. I will have Barcelona – the club, the city, the people – in my heart for the rest of my life. My family got bigger there – my youngest daughter was born in Barcelona.
“I’m really proud of my time there and will always cherish it,” Rakitic said.