Nou face: Rakitic says he is not successor to Fabregas or Xavi
Barcelona’s latest signing Ivan Rakitic has declared he does not see himself as a successor to Cesc Fabregas or Xavi, insisting he will be his own man at the Catalan club.
The Croatia international will be presented by Barcelona on Tuesday following an estimated 18million euro (£14 million) move from Sevilla.
Rakitic’s arrival at the Nou Camp follows the sale of Fabregas to Chelsea, while 34-year-old Xavi is also set to depart Barcelona this summer, even though his expected move to Qatari club Al Arabi has reportedly broke down.
In a farewell press conference at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on Monday, Rakitic eschewed any comparisons with either of his fellow midfielders.
"I’m not going to substitute anyone, I’m going to Barcelona to be Ivan Rakitic, to do as best as I can but always being myself," he said.
Rakitic was previously criticised by Sevilla’s president Jose Castro for his conduct in the transfer, turning down an offer to renew his contract with the Europa League winners earlier in the season.
However, the midfielder insisted he had acted appropriately.
"I don’t regret anything I was always open and correct, that’s why I say that the people that have been most important to me recently have been the president and [sporting director] Monchi, I never tried to force an exit and they know that," he said.
"I’m very proud that the president didn’t want me to leave, that’s positive. But an offer arrived that appealed to me and the club.
"Sevilla was always my first option. I asked for time to evaluate certain things and I’ve decided to take a step forward in my career and try and fight for more trophies. Last year my team-mates left but I stayed because I wanted to achieve big things. Now the time has come but I was only thinking about football."
Despite his previous comments, Castro thanked the player for his services to the club during his three years in Andalusia.
"In just 149 games he has become one of the best players in Sevilla’s modern history," he said. "He fitted into the club’s character, which is why we wanted to say goodbye to him here, in his home."
Rakitic scored 13 goals and provided 12 assists last season with Sevilla, and captained the club to their first trophy since 2007, beating Benfica on penalties in the Europa League final.
"I know where I come from, I don’t want this to be goodbye forever because having been the club’s first foreign captain since (Diego) Maradona is something I will tell my daughter," added Rakitic.
"Sevilla and this city will always belong in my heart."