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Ivan Rakitic admits he was never ‘close’ with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as he opens up on six-year spell at Barcelona

IVAN RAKITIC has revealed that he was never that close with Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez during his time at the Nou Camp.

Despite the trio's success domestically and in Europe, he admitted their relationship was based around respect rather than friendship.

Speaking on their bond he said: "My relationship with them was never one of close friends. I believe that's hard in a group of 23 or 24 players.

"My closest friends were Andres Iniesta, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Junior Firpo last season"

But he also made it clear the respect and admiration he had for the both of them and what they achieved together, amid rumours that he never got on with them.

He added: "I respect them both. They were my team-mates for six years and are very important players. I've always got on incredibly well and have the utmost respect for them.

"I'm very thankful for how they've treated me over the years."

Along with Messi and Suarez, he won four La liga titles and one Champions League from 2014-2020.

But after being humilaited by Bayern Munich in Europe last season, Rakitic was one of the first high-profile casualties to get the axe under new manager Ronald Koeman.

Throughout Rakitic’s time with Barcelona, he played in 310 games and scored 35 goals, along with 42 assists. 

He has since moved to Sevilla, after accepting a massive pay-cut to leave Barcelona.

Rakitic, 32, will now focus on his career at Sevilla, after announcing his retirement from international football.

Speaking on his retirement he said: "Saying goodbye to the national team is the most difficult decision of my career, but I felt that it was the moment when I had to break through and make that decision."

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