One of the star players in La Liga this season has been Croatian international midfielder Ivan Rakitic of Sevilla. Especially in the second half of the campaign the playmaker really came into his own and finished the campaign with 10 assists and 11 goals in arguably the best season of his career so far.
That type of form was never going to go unnoticed and Liverpool have been strongly linked with a move for the player recently; which was received with loving ears by the 25-year-old:
‘’I'm really flattered that I'm being linked with such a big club like Liverpool. I heard that something is happening, but for now there is no concrete offer. My brother, who is taking care of my career, is doing all the business about my future. But I will repeat what I said before: I will only stay at Sevilla if they will strengthen the team. I made it quite clear about that and they know that they have to buy some good players."
So Rakitic is certainly up for grabs while Liverpool seem to have chanced his arm.
But there will certainly be a rival in the form of a former Merseyside rival who might be ready to rekindle his interest in the talented player.
Slaven Bilic played for three years at Liverpool’s city rivals Everton in an often controversial stay toward the twilight of his career and he will be very likely to compete with his Merseyside rivals once again for the services of Rakitic.
Bilic is currently manager at Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow and things are not exactly going to plan for the former Croatian boss. He led the club to a disappointing ninth placed finish last term and has been given a ten-day ultimatum to draw up a rescue plan for the club that runs out next week; or he may find himself out of a job.
Although other reports suggest Bilic is going nowhere as Lokomotiv are prepared to show faith in the controversial manager who has divided the players with his unusual training methods.
And the signing of Rakitic might just be what the doctor ordered.
He attempted to sign his former Croatia national team stalwart in January with many reports suggesting the €10 million deal was in fact done before a last minute change of heart by Rakitic.
Lokomotiv are expected to rout the squad this summer with the likes of Roman Pavyluchenko set to leave in order to fund new signings and Rakitic could be just the ticket toward rising back into the top if Russian football once again.
You can be sure that if Bilic wants to be a success in Russia adding a player of this quality is exactly what he might need; meaning Liverpool are sure to have a battle on their hands to snap up Ivan Rakitic.
image: © jasonparis