The Croatian’s compatriot Ivan Kelava, who plays for Granada in Spain, has hailed the midfielder’s seamless integration into the Barcelona first team since his move from Sevilla
Granada goalkeeper Ivan Kelava has hailed his compatriot Ivan Rakitic’s seamless integration into the Barcelonamidfield.
The Croatia star moved to Catalunya from Sevilla in the summer of 2014 and won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in his debut season at Camp Nou.
Rakitic was brought to Barcelona to replace club legend Xavi and Kelava, who played with the 27-year-old for Croatia’s Under-21 team, believes he is a natural fit for the Spanish champions.
“It’s amazing how he plays,” Kelava told Goal. “When Barcelona bought him, it seemed like he came from La Masia.
“Rakete, as we call him in Croatia, is not just a good guy but also an incredible player. I played alongside him and also against him and it’s incredible – his first year at Barcelona and he has won everything!”
Kelava also lined up alongside Real Madrid stars Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, two other members of a formidable Croatia midfield, during their time at Dinamo Zagreb.
“I was lucky to play with Modric and Kovacic,” he said. “I met Luka before he joined Tottenham. You could see during training his quality was on another level.
“And on Kovacic I’m going to tell you an anecdote: when he reached the first team asked me who my room-mate was, and I told him ‘quiet, son, you’re with me’.
“You could feel he was a phenomenon. I was lucky to play with them both. I always had a f****** great feeling with them.”
Barcelona agreed a deal to sign Dinamo Zagreb’s latest wonderkid, Alen Halilovic, months before they brought Rakitic to the club and Kelava tipped the youngster to eventually join his international team-mate in the first team. If you plan to bet on future transfers, check William Hill Promo code 2016 and their offer.
“Alen is a kid, he’s just 19 years old,” the 28-year-old added. “He’s very young and has great quality.
“I was with him at Dinamo and has a lot of quality, that’s why he’s known as ‘the Croatian Messi’. Every player needs time for adaptation, and a young player needs even more.
“Now he’s playing for Sporting Gijon and he’s showing his quality. I think he’s going to be a very important player for Barcelona.”