MX23RW : Friday, November 16 14:41:36

Ivan Rakitic: 'Playing alongside Lionel Messi is special'

Rakitic: 'Playing alongside Messi is special'
© Offside
Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic says that Ernesto Valverde's decision to rest Lionel Messi against Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday night was a smart decision.

Ivan Rakitic has admitted that playing alongside Lionel Messi "is always special" and says that it is important Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde manages the forward's playing time.

Messi, seeking a fifth Ballon d'Or crown later this week, finally committed his long-term future to the Catalan club last week by agreeing a new four-year deal.

Having scored 17 times in all competitions this term, the 30-year-old was left on the bench for the opening hour of Barca's 2-0 win over Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday night, and Rakitic believes that it is important Valverde continues to look after the superstar forward.

"The important thing is that he's happy here. The important thing is that he's with us and he's by our side," he told reporters. "Sometimes he should rest.

"To play with him is always special and when he has 20 to 25 minutes too he can change the game and the play completely. It's good that he was good in this game and we have to look after him well."

Thirteen of Messi's goals this term have come in La Liga, putting him well clear at the top of the scoring charts.


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Ivan Rakitic in action for Barcelona during their La Liga clash with Granada at the Camp Nou on October 29, 2016
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona1273234181624
2Sevilla1272324141023
3Atletico MadridAtletico12651168823
4AlavesAlaves127231712523
5Espanyol126331610621
6Real Madrid126242016420
7Real Valladolid1245399017
8Levante125251819-117
9GironaGirona124531314-117
10Real Sociedad124441514116
11Getafe124441110116
12Real Betis124441215-316
13EibarEibar124351218-615
14Celta Vigo123542220214
15Valencia1228289-114
16Villarreal122551113-211
17Athletic Bilbao121741319-610
18Leganes12246916-710
19Rayo Vallecano121471425-117
20Huesca121381025-156

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