By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) – Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic accepts his days at the Nou Camp may be numbered, but for now he is concentrating on preparing for next season with the Spanish champions.
After the arrival of Frenkie de Jong from Ajax and 31-year-old Sergio Busquets signing a new five-year deal last year, Barcelona’s midfield is looking a little crowded and the Croat could be the man shipped out this summer.
Speaking ahead of his side’s pre-season match against Chelsea in Japan on Tuesday, Rakitic admitted it was awkward talking about his future but he was used to the rumours.
“Does it bother me? No it doesn’t, I have to understand soccer in general works like that,” Rakitic said at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday when asked about any impending move.
“In some way it also fills me with pride because if other teams ask about me it is because I am doing things really well.”
Rakitic said he is simply trying to enjoy his soccer at Barca as they seek to put disappointments of recent seasons behind them.
“I think the club has other things to do right now other than speak about my issues,” the 31-year-old said.
Coach Enesto Valverde has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to attacking midfielders at his disposal after the arrival of Antoine Griezmann from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid this month.
Griezmann joins a loaded attacking group that also includes Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Phillipe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.
French international Griezmann, who is likely to play his first game in a Barcelona shirt on Tuesday, accepts that Barca play a different brand of football to Atletico but he is confident he can adjust.
“They are two different ways of attacking,” Griezmann said. “At Atletico it’s very quick and the other way is with lots of patience. I will adapt like I did at Atletico.”
“It’s a style I like. I know I can contribute in many ways and, as you know, it’s not a problem for me to run in front or in the back.”
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by David Goodman)