Former Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta has urged the club not to sell his former teammate Ivan Rakitic next year.
A report in Marca earlier this week claimed that had been a mutual agreement between the player and the club for a January transfer.
The Croatia international has been an integral part of the club’s midfielder for five years but has featured only sparingly this season and whilst no transfer away has been finalised, it is now said to be a formality.
Rakitic has been linked with a move away from Ernesto Valverde's side in recent months, after the club stalled on offering him a contract extension this summer, when there was interest – which has now dissipated – from Paris Saint-Germain.
A recent report in Diario Sport claimed his days at the Camp Nou are numbered and while Italian side Inter are favourites to land him, Manchester United have also made direct contract for his signature.
“I would not (sell him),” Iniesta told an interview with Marca when asked about Rakitic’s future.
“I rate Ivan as a great player who has achieved so much at this club over the years and just because he now has a different role and is not starring, it does not detract away from the fact that he is a great player.”
Last week, El Mundo Deportivo have cited a report in Italian-based Tuttosport that the Nerazzurri are in pole position to land the Croatian as early in January.
It had been claimed by that outlet that the former Sevilla captain is the number one transfer target for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, who are desperately lacking strength in depth in their ranks.
However, it is now reported that Juve and Inter – the top two sides in Serie A at the moment – have also prioritised a deal for the experienced central midfielder.
Previous reports in the Spanish press say Barcelona boss Valverde – a long-term admirer of the Croatian midfielder – will no longer oppose the sale should the club decide to go down that path.
The Croatian international’s current deal at the Camp Nou runs through until the summer of 2021 although Barca signed midfielders Arturo Vidal and Arthur Melo last year and have landed Frenkie De Jong from Ajax this summer.
Carles Alena and Riqui Puig have also come through the club’s La Masia ranks to add further depth to the central midfield ranks, while Sergi Roberto can also be deployed there.