One day, Ernesto Valverde will have to explain what's gone on with Ivan Rakitic. I celebrate the fact he's choosing young, talented players, like Arthur Melo and Frenkie de Jong, as he looks to evolve Barcelona's midfielder. But I don't understand how Rakitic has gone from essential to forgotten.
Rakitic was one of the most used players by Valverde during his first two years as a coach (first in terms of games played and fourth in terms of minutes). In 2018, the coach even clearly positioned himself against the midfielder moving to Paris Saint-Germain because he considered him a key part of his squad. Now, all of a sudden, he's disappeared from the team. In the eight games this season he's played just 166 minutes. Very surprising.
His first spell on the bench, in the middle of August, could be understood as pressure from the club (this time accepted by Valverde) to force him to accept being part of Operation Neymar. But it's been a while since the transfer window closed and Rakitic's ostracism continues without anything from the coach other than: "there are a lot of players to pick from..." It cannot be that the Croatian's been forgotten overnight. Nor has he lost his quality over the summer.
There must be a powerful reason why Valverde has taken this stance on a player who was his favourite not so long ago. There's the possibility that Rakitic leaves in January. But, to avoid devaluing him, it would be good to give him, every now and again, a chance. In fact, the 166 minutes he's played until is even less than the 187 played by Rafinha, a player that's not been in the squad for a month now. Unexplainable.