Rakitic lost for words as Iniesta heads for Barcelona exit

The midfielder is moving on to pastures new at 34, leaving behind a legacy at Camp Nou that will live long in the memory of his team-mates and fans

Ivan Rakitic admitted it was difficult to find the words to describe Andres Iniesta’s final match for Barcelona on Sunday.

The 34-year-old played 80 minutes of the 1-0 La Liga win over Real Sociedad before being substituted to a standing ovation from a packed Camp Nou crowd.

Rakitic has won every major trophy available since joining Barca in 2014, including three league titles and the Champions League, all while playing alongside Iniesta at the heart of the midfield.

And the former Sevilla star says the squad have found it tough to accept Iniesta is leaving after 16 years in the senior team.

“The news about Iniesta’s exit has affected us a lot. I don’t have the words to describe the feeling right now,” the Croatia international told beIN SPORTS after the match.

“For me, it’s been a genuine pleasure to play with him. We’ve connected on and off the pitch. I have so much affection for him, his wife and his children.”

Article continues below

Iniesta was expected to move to the Chinese Super League but there is speculation that Japanese side Vissel Kobe are now more likely to sign him.

The Spain international has also been linked with MLS teams and even Manchester City, where he would reunite with former coach Pep Guardiola.