Cristiano Ronaldo to Renew Rivalry With Ivan Rakitic as Ex-Barcelona Star Is Close to Joining Al Shabab- Reports

Published 01/27/2024, 8:58 AM EST

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The Saudi Pro League has seen a massive influx of elite European stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and more over the last few months. And it seems the trend is about to continue. Now, former Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic is reportedly close to joining Saudi side Al Shabab. The move is surprising considering how he was rumoured to link up with a former teammate instead.

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The Croatian midfielder has a contract at Sevilla until June 2024. Hence, with this transfer, it seems Sevilla wants to avoid losing their star midfielder for free.

Ivan Rakitic closing in on a move to Al Shabab

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As per reputed soccer journalist Fabrizio Romano, Sevilla and Al Shabab are in advanced talks regarding the transfer of Ivan Rakitic. The key point is that Rakitic himself is interested in the move. Al Shabab sits currently 12th place in the Saudi Pro League and a player with the experience of the Croatian will benefit them immensely ahead of the decisive 2nd stage of the season.

A move to Al Shabab makes perfect sense from a sporting view for the veteran midfielder. Sevilla currently sit 17th in the league and are having one of their worst seasons ever. Rakitic has not been in the best of form either and has just 2 goals and 1 assist from 18 games. Also, the Croatian will turn 36 in a few weeks and moving to Al Shabab is a good way to earn one last big paycheck.

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If Al Shabab does manage to complete the signing, then the match on February 25th against Al Nassr will have an extra layer. Rakitic will be up against former rival Cristiano Ronaldo. The duo were on opposite sides in soccer’s most heated rivalry, the El Clasico.

Interestingly, Al Shabab was not the only side interested in securing the Croatian’s services. Back in November, Inter Miami was heavily linked with Rakitic. Yet, the midfielder didn’t seem to have much interest in moving to the MLS

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A reunion with Lionel Messi didn’t seem to interest Rakitic

In November, Rakitic answered a question on social media regarding his potential move to Inter Miami. The Croatian gave a witty reply in the third person with the message, “I think he will stay here.” A move to Inter Miami would have made sense for Rakitic considering that he could have played alongside former teammates Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba, and Luis Suarez.

Interestingly, it was Messi himself who reportedly demanded the signing of the veteran midfielder. The duo played a key role in Barcelona’s 2015 treble victory where the Croatian even scored in the final. Hence, Rakitic’s snub would have disappointed the Argentine maestro who is well aware of his former teammate’s immense quality.

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Will Ivan Rakitic be a good signing for Al Shabab? Tell us in the comments below.

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Written by:

Adithya Narayanan

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Soccer was the first sport I played in my life. It turned out to be my favorite one by an absolute mile. In my younger days, I became a Liverpool fan but it was only when Jurgen Klopp arrived that my passion for the game intensified.
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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo

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