Ever since his move from Sevilla to FC Barcelona in 2014, the Croatian has been fundamental in the title wins at the Camp Nou. In addition to that, the Croat has been equally impressive in the international colors, as he led the Croatian golden generation to their first-ever World Cup final in 2018.
As the midfielder now is into the final year of his contract at the current La Liga holders, numerous clubs have been linked to the Croat. Recently, Mundo Deportivo has claimed that Tottenham is interested in signing Rakitic in the summer transfer window.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has always been a fan of him. After FC Barcelona completed the double over rivals Real Madrid in the 2018/19 season, the Portuguese manager called the Croatian midfielder as “underrated”.
Mourinho spoke of his admiration for Rakitic on BeIN Sports in March, 2019
“For me, Rakitić is one of the most underrated players in the world, he is a fantastic player at every level. He does defensive work on the right side to compensate for Messi. He runs miles. In ball possession he is fantastic. He is simple, he is effective. He is one of the most underrated players.Mourinho said speaking as a pundit for BeIN SPORTS.
The Barcelona midfielder responded to the former Manchester United manager with some beautiful words.
“What can you say? I don’t have enough words to thank Mourinho, he is one of the best experts in the world. I don’t know if my Dad has ever praised me in a better way. This type of praise is very nice and I enjoy hearing it.”Ivan Rakitic giving his interview to SPORT
These words truly indicate that there is an enormous amount of respect between the two of them. As a result, Tottenham supporters may expect to see the 2015 Champions League winner in the white colors in North London.
We tend to look at how the Tottenham midfield will look like if this speculation does come to the surface and the transfer goes through.
Profile of the player
As the Tottenham manager describes himself, Ivan Rakitic can play in multiple positions in midfield and can occupy any role which suits Mourinho’s style of play.
The role of Barcelona
In the treble-winning season of 2014/15, then FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique deployed Ivan Rakitic as a well-rounded playmaker. His performances against Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and Juventus drew considerable applause as his all-round play allowed him to recover the ball quickly in midfield and create chances for the formidable front three of Neymar, Suarez, and Messi.
As Xavi was set to retire at the end of the 2014/15 season, Rakitic’s role in the team become more crucial for the team in the middle of the park. Rakitic was fundamental in the ball recovery and the advanced position was covered by Andres Iniesta.
Jose Mourinho in his first stint at Chelsea played a 4-3-3. If we look at the options that Tottenham possesses, they have got great advanced options in Lamela, Ndombele, and Alli as well as the players who can do a job in the holding position with Winks and Le Celso.
Having Rakitic deployed in the middle of the two may make things easy for both the player positions as his incredible work ethic with and without the ball will make it easier for Tottenham to keep possession and keep things in control whenever the pressure is high.
At times, Barcelona managers also tend to use the Croatian midfielder in the advanced role. Now if we look at Tottenham it has incredible attacking players in Dele Alli, Giovani Le Celso, and Gedson Fernandes.
On the other hand, Rakitic has been influential in the advanced role, scoring 34 and assisting 41 of the goals. The front 3 of Harry Kane, Steven Bergwin, and Son Heung Min may not be as influential as Messi, Suarez, and Neymar, but it still is a great front 3 and Rakitic supplying them may boost their numbers even further.
If we compare Rakitic’s numbers with the current Champions League holder in Gini Wijnaldum, he easily beats the Dutch midfielder in terms of the work done with the ball despite not even being a regular starter for the Catalans. Wijnaldum on the other hand has been pivotal in Liverpool sitting top of the table in the Premier League by a massive margin.
Jose Mourinho since returning to England from Real Madrid has used a 4-2-3-1 at his time in Chelsea and Manchester United with Nemanja Matic usually sitting at the base of his midfield.
If we look into Tottenham’s squad, they have incredible attacking players behind Harry Kane, Rakitic could be deployed behind them in a midfield 2. Mourinho has assessed the development of Winks, Le Celso, and Dier.
However, he has been unable to find a solution to his holding role which has only raised questions as the results have deteriorated after the departure of Christian Eriksen to Inter Milan.
If Rakitic joins the project of Tottenham, he can get deployed at the base of the midfield. He was fundamental playing that role for Croatia in the World Cup as he did the dirty work for the likes of Modric, Mandzukic, and Perisic to flourish going forward. In addition to that, he also scored some crucial goals.
As we have seen that there is an incredible amount of respect between Rakitic and Mourinho previously, Tottenham fans may get giddy about their union in North London. Additionally, if the transfer goes through and becomes a hit, this could be the best transfer of the 3-time Premier League winner since bringing Cesc Fabregas back to England and may get things going for him if he wants to bring back the golden days of his career.