Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic has not ruled out returning to the Bundesliga one day, hailing the German top flight as a “special” place to play football.
Croatia international Rakitic spent three seasons with Schalke, scoring 16 goals in 135 matches, before joining Sevilla in 2011.
From there he went onto become one of La Liga’s most consistent performers, earning a £16.2 million ($20.8m) move to Camp Nou three years later.
And, while he rejected the chance to leave the Blaugrana last summer following interest from Paris Saint-Germain, the idea of returning to Germany before he retires is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Speaking to Goal and Spox in cooperation with DAZN at an Adidas event in Herzogenaurach, he said: “We will have to call Niko (Kovac) or maybe we’ll see if Manu (Neuer) can do something with Uli Hoeness!
“The Bundesliga was always something very special for me. I always followed it as a little boy and later played there for three years. My time at Schalke was special. We will see if I return again.
“It has to fit for all sides. But for me, the Bundesliga is still one of the absolute top leagues. With Bayern, Dortmund and Schalke there are also top teams.”
For now, Rakitic remains committed to Barca, with his current deal set to run until the end of the 2020-21 season.
And he is hopeful that he will be working under manager Ernesto Valverde for the foreseeable future, with the former Athletic Club boss having led them to the Liga title last season.
He remains under contract until June 2019, but Rakitic is hopeful he will be offered a fresh deal in the coming months.
“He is very calm, a real worker,” he said of the 54-year-old. “He prepares all the details piece by piece, always wants his team to get their best.
“I trust my coach and know what he wants and expects from me. We fit together very well and have a similar vision of football. Personally, I am happy that he is my coach.
“It would be the best step if the club decides to extend it [his contract]. He knows the team and knows what the team needs.”
Barca are next in action on Wednesday when they take on PSV in the Champions League, with Rakitic set to return having picked up a hamstring injury while on international duty.
He will then be hoping to help the Spanish champions back to winning ways on Sunday against struggling Villarreal after defeat to Real Betis – a game in which Rakitic was sent-off – and a draw against Atletico Madrid saw them slip behind Sevilla at the top of the Liga table.