'I was never close with Messi at Barca'

LaLiga

Former FC Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic hinted there were divisions within the squad and claims he never had a relationship with superstars Lionel Messi or Luis Saurez.

After six years with the LaLiga giants where he lifted 13 major titles, Rakitic was sold back to Sevilla for a nominal fee of €1.5-million as they club continues to usher the club stalwarts out within their rebuilding phase.

Suarez, who arrived at Barcelona in the same transfer window could follow the Croatian out the exit door with Atletico Madrid said to be keen on a free transfer.

Speaking to El Desmarque, Rakitic opened up about his time at the club and admits he never really got to know the club captain or the Uruguayn on a personal level.

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"I've said my side," Rakitic said. "My relationship with them was never one of close friends. I believe that's hard in a group of 23 or 24 players.

"My closest friends were Andres Iniesta, [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen, [Kevin-Prince] Boateng and Junior Firpo last season. But I respect them both.

"They were my team-mates for six years and are very important players. I've always got on incredibly well and have the utmost respect for them.

"During the coronavirus lockdown, we've all been very close together, almost neighbours. I'm very thankful for how they've treated me over the years."

The 32-year-old scored 35 goals and registered 42 assists in 310 games in all competitions after joining the club in a €18m switch from Los Palanganas.

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