Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has revealed that he turned down “big” offers from Chelsea and Juventus in his formative years.
The Croatia international passed through Basel, Schalke and Sevilla before his move to Camp Nou last summer, and he believes he was right to see out his development in Switzerland as he shared a story of a teammate who chased the euro signs.
“It was important for me to do it step by step,” he told the Telegraph.
“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.
“[I had] 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 Basel 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.”
“I really like the Premier League, I like it a lot, because of [West Ham United boss] Slaven Bilic.
“He was my Coach for six, seven years with Croatia [who Rakitic chose to represent over Switzerland] and he’s really enjoying it [in England].
“It’s special to be part of [Barca], but I arrived here to enjoy it. I just went in and said ‘here I am’ and ‘I will work’.
“The last year in Sevilla was really important for me – as a player but also as a person.
“It was important to be the first non-Spanish captain since Maradona. It was important to get that respect and that made it easier here.”