On one hand, there’s international teammate Luka Modric, who won the Golden Ball for best player at the World Cup, added UEFA’s Best Men’s Player award, and is on the three-man list of finalists for FIFA’s award.
On the other, there’s Lionel Messi, who was shockingly left out of the three-man shortlists for both the UEFA and FIFA awards despite another stunning season for his club.
Rakitic has found a diplomatic answer to any Messi v Modric questions, however.
“Messi is the best player in the world and in the history of the game,” the midfielder said ahead of Croatia’s loss to Spain on Wednesday. “[But this year] Luka deserves everything,”
“Everyone in Croatia is delighted for him, because it’s a prize for the whole country,” Rakitic added of Modric’s winning the UEFA award.
“It would surprise me if he didn’t win any more awards.”
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16:05 – La Liga push for Miami match
15:05 – Messi is No1 for Enrique
Spain head coach Luis Enrique has claimed Lionel Messi is one step ahead of notable players like Croatia’s Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.
12:40 – Arthur set for Samba start
Coach Tite will change more than half of the Brazil starting line-up ahead of their second post-World Cup friendly against El Salvador.
10:33 – Barcelona star Sergio Busquets says Spain are fully focused on new era under Luis Enrique
Experienced midfielder Busquets won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with his country but was also part of the squads which failed to progress past the last-16 stage at the past two World Cups and Euro 2016.
New coach Enqriue, who replaced the sacked Julen Lopetegui in July, began his tenure with Saturday’s 2-1 victory over England in the Nations League.
Ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Croatia in the same competition, Barcelona player Busquets insists his country must look to the future.
“It’s hard to repeat a World Cup and nothing is impossible,” said Busquets at his pre-match press conference.
“We don’t hold on to the past, we recall it with joy, it’s history but after three disappointments we want to turn a new leaf and qualify well in this competition and earn a pass to the Euro (2020).
“What happened, happened and should not distract us.”
Former Spain coach Lopetegui was dismissed a day before the World Cup in Russia after accepting the vacant Real Madrid job.
Caretaker Fernando Hierro then oversaw the tournament, which ended with a shock penalty shoot-out defeat to the unfancied hosts in the second round.
Busquets believes the team is retaining a similar style of play under Enrique, who previously coached him at Barca.
“I know Luis from his time at FC Barcelona. It’s too soon to reach conclusions, but the system is more or less the same,” he added.
“In general, it’s all similar and the important thing is to deliver a good level.
“In the last tournaments we were not up to par, but we want to continue what we started at Wembley.”
Croatia travel to Elche for their first competitive match since reaching the World Cup final.
Zlatko Dalic’s side, beaten 4-2 by France in Moscow in July, warmed up for the game with a 1-1 friendly draw against European champions Portugal on Thursday.
Vice-captain Ivan Rakitic is expected to win his 100th cap during the match.