Contract renewals seem to be the hot topic with Barcelona at the moment. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Luis Enrique are among the important components of the club whose contract renewals are reportedly being discussed, with Sergio Busquets having already secured his Blaugrana future in recent days. Given the club’s ambitious nature, forward-thinking is a must.
Although Ivan Rakitic’s current contract does not expire until the 2019 season, his renewal is rightfully already up for discussion. The Croatian international has become little short of indispensable for Barca since his arrival from Sevilla in the summer of 2014 so securing his services has understandably become a priority.
Surprisingly, a variety of media reported that Barca had plans for Rakitic to be offloaded during the summer transfer window. Since there have been so many midfield additions lately, it seemed that players would have to leave the club to make room, and Rakitic was one of them.
Fortunately, the club has acted wisely and decided to trust him to remain a part of the Catalans' squad for years to come. While he may be under-appreciated, Rakitic serves an important role with the club because of his undeniable quality, ability to run into goalscoring positions and his willingness to sacrifice his individual brilliance for the team's overall benefit.
In the past two seasons, Rakitic has accumulated sixteen goals and twelve assists in La Liga and the Champions League. This is not even considering his many contributions in set pieces and his prolific passing skills. The 28-year-old midfielder is an extremely capable player who is now fully adapted to Barca's system. He may not be the star of the team, but undoubtedly has the ability and experience necessary to make meaningful contributions to the squad when he plays.
During the recent summer transfer window, Rakitic reportedly refused offers from Manchester United, Juventus and Chelsea -- which shows the admirable level of loyalty the Croatian has for Barcelona. A rarity in the modern age of football, Rakitic’s loyalty is deeply appreciated by his teammates, manager and the whole of the Blaugrana community. The No.4's refusal to leave shows that he is willing to contribute in whatever way he can even though he would most likely be receiving much more praise and a bigger share of the spotlight elsewhere.
Rakitic's attitude will prove to be even more valuable to the club in the future. As a 28-year-old in a club that is focused on cultivating young talent, his starting appearances will likely decrease and his substitutions will likely become more frequent. Barca is a club with an obvious excess of midfielders, and that can only mean increased challenge for a starting spot.
Although Rakitic's contract expiration is several years off, it would be wise of Barcelona to rise his buyout clause even further as soon as possible to ensure those who were chasing his services this summer don't come back knocking on his door any time soon -- as a quality player with such a professional, selfless attitude would be virtually impossible to replace.
Here's wishing Rakitic many years of continued success at the Camp Nou -- and a well-deserved pay-rise!
By Marissa Blackman, columnist at Barcablog.