Barcelona Opinion: Three players Barcelona should target as a replacement for Rakitic
The 31-year-old has been gracing the Catalans’ squad for more than five seasons. However, there has been a steep decline in his progress in recent years.
Starting as a central midfielder with more of an attacking intent under then-manager Luis Enrique, goals and creativity flooded from the Croatian’s feet in his early days.
However, Rakitic has now become a narrow-minded player, who lacks creativity and shies away from getting into the attacking third, which can be seen through his stats.
Here are some of the players who can replace Rakitic on the long-term.
Frenkie de Jong(Barcelona)
The newly-acquired gem is ideal for being the natural successor of Sergio Busquets. However, the Dutch star can also play as a central midfielder, as he has shown already while playing at Ajax.
With Busquets having enough gallons in his tank, De Jong can accompany him in the middle of the park. The 22-year-old played 90 per cent of his games as a central midfielder at the Amsterdam outfit last season.
In fact, it should be the position the Dutchman plays in for the upcoming season.
Donny van de Beek (Ajax)
Another exciting talent from Ajax comprising attributes similar to world-class midfielder Paul Pogba, Van de Beek is being chased by a swarm of Europe’s elite clubs – a testimony to his significance.
The 22-year-old racked up a total of 17 goals and 13 assists in all competitions the last term and was an important figure behind Erik ten Hag’s fairytale run, securing a domestic treble as well as reaching the semi-finals of the UCL.
As far as the Catalans are concerned, he could be deployed as a central midfielder with his former Ajax teammate De Jong operating as a pivot.
Riqui Puig (Barcelona B)
The La Masia product has already shown his immense potential and Valverde has to make a call on his first-team promotion without any further ado.
Puig had his breakthrough with the Catalans’ reserves side last season, where he ended up grabbing an assists tally of 7. And the promise he showed there allowed him to bag three senior team appearances.
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To put the icing on the cake, the 19-year-old pulled off a stellar display in the friendlies against Chelsea earlier this week.
While it has been a long time since any of Barca’s academy graduates have gotten the spotlight in the senior team, Puig has the calibre to follow the footsteps of greats like Andres Iniesta and Xavi.