Barca’s Rakitic unmoved by transfer rumours, shifts focus to next season - GulfToday

Barca’s Rakitic unmoved by transfer rumours, shifts focus to next season

Barca

Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann (left) and Ivan Rakitic pose for photographers after a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. AP

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic accepts his days at the Nou Camp may be numbered, but for now he is concentrating on preparing for next season with the Spanish champions.

After the arrival of Frenkie de Jong from Ajax and 31-year-old Sergio Busquets signing a new five-year deal last year, Barcelona’s midfield is looking a little crowded and the Croat could be the man shipped out this summer.

Speaking ahead of his side’s pre-season match against Chelsea in Japan on Tuesday, Rakitic admitted it was awkward talking about his future but he was used to the rumours.

“Does it bother me? No it doesn’t, I have to understand soccer in general works like that,” Rakitic said at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday when asked about any impending move.

“In some way it also fills me with pride because if other teams ask about me it is because I am doing things really well.”

Rakitic said he is simply trying to enjoy his soccer at Barca as they seek to put disappointments of recent seasons behind them.

“I think the club has other things to do right now other than speak about my issues,” the 31-year-old said.

Coach Enesto Valverde has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to attacking midfielders at his disposal after the arrival of Antoine Griezmann from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid this month.

Griezmann joins a loaded attacking group that also includes Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Phillipe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.

French international Griezmann, who is likely to play his first game in a Barcelona shirt on Tuesday, accepts that Barca play a different brand of football to Atletico but he is confident he can adjust.

“They are two different ways of attacking,” Griezmann said.

 “At Atletico it’s very quick and the other way is with lots of patience. I will adapt like I did at Atletico.”

“It’s a style I like. I know I can contribute in many ways and, as you know, it’s not a problem for me to run in front or in the back.”

Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann on Monday said he couldn’t wait to make his Barcelona debut and that his heart was with the team as he tries to move on from a sour exit from Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid.

Griezmann’s 120 million euros ($135 million) transfer was contested by Atletico, who insisted Barcelona should have paid a higher price for the World Cup-winning French striker.

But he told media in Tokyo: “I am very happy about the outcome of my transfer. I am very eager to play as soon as possible.”

“I wish Atletico players all the best of luck. I am focused on giving my all so that Barca will deliver good results,” he said in Spanish through a translator.

Barcelona’s offer triggered Griezmann’s release clause but Atletico said the Catalan club negotiated the deal before the buy-out price dropped from 200 million euros at the start of July.

Atletico are reportedly planning to take their case to FIFA.

Griezmann voiced his appreciation for his time at Atletico and his strong relationship with their coach, Diego Simeone. But the Frenchman said he was now committed to Barca.

“I am focused on fitting in among the Barcelona players. My heart is here with them,” he said.

The Spanish giants will play a friendly against Chelsea on Tuesday, and on Saturday they face Japan’s Vissel Kobe, who feature ex-Barca players Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper.

Agencies