If there is one essential footballer for Ernesto Valverde, Lionel Messi aside, it's Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian plays nearly all the time and is one of the most sought-after players on the market. Barcelona received a huge offer from Paris Saint-Germain last summer, but Valverde convinced him to stay,
Now, Chelsea are interested in signing him if he becomes available in the summer. The signing of De Jong and the likely arrival of Adrien Rabiot will leave Barça's midfield overpopulated and that will have consequences elsewhere. Without a doubt, Rakitic is one player that could bring in plenty of money if all parties are in agreement.
Barça expect offers for Rakitic this summer. Not as high as the PSG bid last summer, but big enough to be taken seriously. It seems the French club will not come back, but the Premier League is an option.
As well as Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal also have Rakitic on the table for June. They want to know the availability of both Barça and the player to talk about a deal.
Rakitic has always made it clear his intention is to stay at Barça. He likes the club and the city and he has his coach's backing. That was enough to reject PSG, who offered 90 million euros, a figure which was dangerously close to reaching his 125 million euro release clause.
Barça appreciated the player's effort but told him there would be no wage rise. It's not been too long since he renewed and the club are managing a spiraling wage bill. At the moment, they're not thinking about a new deal despite his form. Rakitic is 31 in March and his contract's up in 2021, so a June exit wouldn't be that strange.
All parties are aware of how the market works, but nothing will be spoken about until the season ends. Now, it's all about winning titles. Barça are being informed of all movements, though, and know there will be juicy departure options for the midfielder.
There's homework to be done for Barça. And one of them is to bring in money. For the moment, they have the guaranteed sale of Paco Alcacer and there's a good chance some cash comes in for Andre Gomes, too, who's doing well at Everton. From there, the club will listen to offers for various players and Rakitic could be one of them. It will also have to be seen how Valverde reacts if he does continue in charge next season.
Chelsea are re-constructing their side and see Rakitic as a leader. First, they would have to convince the player; then they'd have to table an acceptable offer. What's clear is they have money to invest.