IVAN Rakitic says Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi can continue to be the world’s best player for many years to come.
The Argentina star is vying for his fifth Ballon d’Or crown this month against Cristiano Ronaldo and Manuel Neuer following a year which saw him breaking the goalscoring records in La Liga and the Champions League after being named the best player at the World Cup.
“Messi is amazing, the best in the world and he can be the best for many years to come,” Rakitic told Vecernji list.
The Croatia international, who joined from Sevilla in the summer, says he is still learning from his team-mates at Camp Nou and claims Xavi in particular commands a huge amount of respect amongst the squad.
“I still learn from Barca players and Xavi is the best example: he has won so many trophies and still is hungry,” he said. “He guides us in a way which makes us all respect him – no wonder the team trusts him.
“I enjoy playing football. Every day I wake up with a smile on my face saying: ‘Great, I am going to train and give my best’. Those guys are all global stars but still ordinary people.”
Rakitic also credits Luis Enrique for the way in which he prepares the Barcelona side for each game and says the head coach has the same meticulous approach as his old boss at Sevilla.
“Luis Enrique is similar to Unai Emery in the way he prepares the game and training,” he said. “He is also very clear in what he asks us to do, he explains every detail so you fully understand all his requests.”
The 26-year-old admits he would like to return to Andalusia in future after lifting the Europa League in an impressive three-year spell with Sevilla.
“Sevilla will always be my city and some day I would like to return to southern Spain,” he added. “I am very proud Sevilla appointed me as captain, my wife and her entire family have always been Sevilla fans and when I became captain I was very happy, it was the biggest honour I’ve ever had.”