Whаt іs іt lіke to рlay wіth Lіonel Meѕѕi? Former Bаrcelonа teаm-mаte exрlains why іt’s ‘impossible’ to рick juѕt one moment

For many, Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer to have ever lived – the seven Ballon d’Or honours he has picked up during his career epitomising why the Argentine is so highly revered.

Ivan Rakitic had the fortune and pleasure to play with Messi for six seasons at Barcelona between 2014 and 2020, winning the Champions League, Club World Cup, four La Liga titles and four Copa del Rey trophies together. 

When FourFourTwo asks Rakitic what his favourite moment playing alongside Messi at Barcelona was, the Croatian finds it difficult to pinpoint one exact example. 

Rakitic enjoyed all six years playing alongside Messi (Image credit: Getty Images)

“Oh wow… to pick one moment out is impossible,” Rakitic tells FFT, “let’s stay with the whole six years!

“We had so many amazing games together. When you play with Messi, you just have to give him the ball, but it’s a bit like learning football in a new way. 

“There aren’t many guys in the football world, or in sport as a whole, who can take the decisions for the whole team during a match. He’s one of those guys.”

Of course, Messi isn’t the only world-class player Rakitic has shared a dressing room with. When it comes to midfield partners, it’s slightly frightening, in fact. 

Rakitic and Modric were vital to Croatia’s success at World Cup 2018 (Image credit: Getty Images)

The 35-year-old played alongside Xavi and Andres Iniesta at Barcelona, as well as Luka Modric for the Croatian national team. Discussing how he found those experiences, Rakitic highlights just how privileged he felt.

“It was just about enjoying it, because it was so amazing,” Rakitic explains to FFT

“You had to feel proud to be with these guys – not only with their quality on the pitch, but also because of how they were off the pitch. I’m really thankful for that time with them, and to be able to say today that those players are my friends.

“It was just about learning 24 hours a day from Xavi – in training, in the dressing room, when you travelled with him, during games… it was only one season, but it was one year of learning all of the time.”

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