Lionel Messi wasn’t a fantastic captain, according to Al-Shabab midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who played with him at Barcelona.

From 2018 to 2021, Lionel Messi led Barcelona, taking home the La Liga trophy in 2019. During the team’s transition from Andres Iniesta to himself, the Argentinian took over as captain. He would remain with the club until 2021 when he left for Paris Saint-Germain.

Even though Messi had an amazing career with the Blraugrana overall, his prize haul as captain was not that impressive. Unfortunately, it included some notorious losses in the UEFA Champions League.

What did Rakitic say about Messi’s leadership during time with Barca?

Together, the Argentine and the Croat four league championships, with three different leaders at the helm. When 2020 rolled around, Rakitic was back at Sevilla. In recent comments, the former Croatian international has dropped hints that Messi’s communication may have been better.

“I don’t have to explain to Messi how to play. I have to know where to put myself in attack so that I have a more advantageous situation. He doesn’t have to defend, that’s my job.

“He could be the best left back in the world if he wanted.” On the other hand, Rakitic said that the Argentine wasn’t the “best captain to tell you what you had to do, because he was unique, different. We lost the Champions in 2018 and 2019 ourselves.

“Of course, the rivals deserved it, but I think we didn’t try hard enough. We may have gotten tired of winning. When you earn so much, you lose focus and don’t pay attention to detail, and then they kill you.”

Rakitic and Messi were rivals more often than they were teammates
Rakitic and Messi were rivals more often than they were teammates

Rakitic and Messi were rivals more often than they were teammates

But then, he proclaimed the forward to be “the best” player he has ever had the pleasure of playing with.

“In games, it’s different, but when you work with him day-by-day, you can really tell just how good he is, because how he receives the ball and how he already knows what’s going on behind him, his movements, it’s so easy, his finishing, he makes it look so easy. It’s not like he’s even shooting, it’s like he’s passing it into the goal.”

Pair could have still been teammates

Both players have subsequently departed Barcelona, with Messi joining Ligue 1 powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain in 2021. After winning the World Cup, the superstar took over as captain of MLS team Inter Miami the next season.

Along the same lines, Rakitic went back to his old club Sevilla after leaving Camp Nou. That is, until he joined Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League, one of several players in their latter years to take a lucrative offer.

But the 36-year-old may have been considering a move to Inter Miami prior to that, according to previous reports. His former Barca colleagues including Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba are all thriving in Florida.

It would have been fitting for Rakitic to complete his playing career with Inter Miami, where he could have reunited with Messi and other Barcelona greats; also, the seasoned playmaker would have flourished in MLS among his prior American colleagues.

Photo credits: IMAGO / Cordon Press/Miguelez Sports : IMAGO / AFLOSPORT