As football teams evolve, so players come and go.
New managers have different ideas of how they want the game to be played, and that can often mean that players who were previously untouchable as starters, are left on the periphery.
That set of circumstances has befallen Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, albeit he still has the same coach in Ernesto Valverde.The way in which the Croatian has been treated in 2019/20 is a little bit of a head scratcher if truth be told. Still only 31 years of age, it’s clear that the midfielder has an awful lot to give.
He’s lost none of his tenacity, can still outrun most of his colleagues for 90 minutes, has a cannon-like shot on him and can still pick a pass with ease.
It’s accepted that Frenkie De Jong can do all of those things and is almost a decade younger than his contemporary, but Rakitic’s still set can be complimentary to the Dutchman.
Perhaps the real issue is that Sergio Busquets, being a La Masia graduate to boot, will generally have a place left open for him in Barca’s midfield, even if his form isn’t the best – as has happened in the recent past.
But Rakitic remains philosophical.
“I’ve given a lot in the five and a half years I’ve been here, and I want to continue to enjoy it,” he said in an interview with Universo Valdano.
“I trust my football, I’m 31 and not 38, I feel at my best, but I understand and respect the decisions made by a coach.
“I think last season was the best of my career, I’m working harder than ever and I’m crazy about details, I love football.”
There are rumours that both Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid are interested in the midfielder’s services, and in the few games that are left in 2019, if Rakitic is still frozen out, then there’s every possibility that he may move to pastures new.
Let’s not forget too, the way in which he was treated during the summer, when it seemed he was being used as a makeweight in a deal for Neymar which, ultimately, didn’t come to fruition.
There’s a sense of inevitability about the situation, and from a fans perspective, for someone who has given so much to the Blaugrana, it’s a surprise that more are not coming out in support of the player.
The old adage of ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it’ can be perfectly applied here.