Ivan Rakitic never saw his future lying away from Camp Nou despite interest in the World Cup runner-up from Paris St Germain, the midfielder has said.
PSG had been keen on bringing the Croatia international, who shone as his side reached the World Cup final in Russia, to the French capital, but Rakitic has revealed that leaving the Spanish champions was never seriously on his radar.
Rakitic, who won a domestic and European treble in his first season at Barcelona in 2015, played a key role as Ernesto Valverde’s side regained their La Liga crown from Real Madrid last season, and has been touted as a future club captain following the departures of Andres Iniesta and Javier Mascherano.
“I never saw myself leaving,” Rakitic told Marca. “There were several topics that we talked about. I took those days to reflect a little bit on everything and sincerely I realised where I was.
“It did not take anything special, I saw that I am a lucky. I can play at Barcelona, I defend this badge and that’s the biggest thing there is. Also, my wife and my daughters are very happy in Barcelona.”
Rakitic has started all three of Barca’s Liga victories this season as the club have moved to the top of the early-season standings, as he looks to cement his reputation as one of Europe’s most complete midfielders off the back of Croatia’s historic run to the World Cup final.
“Things are going very well and there is no other place where you want to be,” he said. “It has been easy as I feel the respect of my teammates, the coaches, the fans and the president and that is the best thing for a footballer.”
“I’m really grateful for the coach’s words and for the conversations I had with him. The way he has behaved with me has been really good and I appreciate it all.”
Rakitic has made over 200 appearances for Barca since signing from Sevilla in 2015, and said last month of his decision to remain put “there is no other club able to offer me what Barcelona is offering.
“I always try to give my best and I want to be involved all the time, not missing any training sessions and being able to give my all for my team-mates.”
Barca and Rakitic return to action after the international break on Saturday as they travel to Real Sociedad.