Football

Ivan Rakitic explains why he turned down Chelsea transfer

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When Barcelona allowed Cesc Fabregas to leave for Chelsea for the reasonable price of £27million in 2014, it was only because officials at the Nou Camp were convinced they were about to sign someone even better.

Ivan Rakitic's move from Sevilla would be confirmed just four days after Fabregas returned to the Premier League, and since then he has gone to achieve the very thing that many believed Fabregas failed to.

He has provided the link-up between defence and attack that Barcelona were after, playing a key role in what would be a treble-winning success in Catalonia last season. Playing with the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar, it is hard to standout, but most Barcelona fans have grown to appreciate the Croatian's immense talent.

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Needless to say, Rakitic has the kind of career most footballers can only dream of, but it could have been so very different had he chosen to walk down another path at the tender age of 16. Chelsea's expanding scouting arm had spotted him at FC Basel and wanted to bring him to Stamford Bridge.

They had just been taken over by Roman Abramovich so, needless to say, there was a lot of money on the table. Rakitic, now 27, thought long and hard about it, but ultimately decided to stay put.

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Here is what he told theTelegraph:

“It was important for me to do it step by step. First of all to arrive in the first-team in Switzerland because I had, at 16 years of age, a big offer to go to Chelsea. And another offer from Juventus and I decided to stay at home with my family. Then I first had to get into the Super League in Switzerland and after that the next step.

“At that time, when I was 15, 16, I decided it was important to have my family. It might not have been the best decision for everyone but it was the right one for me.

“Maybe when I decided to stay in Basle it might have been a bad decision but it was my decision. Or maybe I will go to Chelsea and my father would have said ‘no, stay at home’. It was important for me to say ‘the money is there but the money will come with time, also’. There was another player like me and he went and today he is playing in the fourth division in Switzerland.”

Good decision

If there is one thing Chelsea have failed at since Abramovich's billions came in, it is developing youth into first-team talent. Indeed, John Terry remains the one and only academy graduate regularly playing in Jose Mourinho's senior side.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is trying hard to break through, but most of his team-mates – Dominic Solanke, Izzy Brown, Lewis Baker – have been shipped out on loan. There are also countless talents that have fallen by the wayside in recent years. Rakitic, now Croatia's best player, would surely have followed a similar path.

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Topics:
Premier League
Barcelona
Transfer News
La Liga
Chelsea
Football

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