Rakitic, who left the Catalan giant last summer for Sevilla, pointed out that it was a ‘dream’ to play alongside Barca superstar, adding that he is “on another level” to all the greats of the sport that have come before him.
The former Sevilla captain had played alongside Messi for so many years after moving to Camp Nou from Sevilla for €18 million (£16m/$19m) in the summer of 2014. He went on to play over 300 games for the club across all competitions, scoring 35 goals while also providing 42 assists.
Messi is mostly the beneficiary of the Croatian’s assist in the final third. This made the two men enjoy an effective partnership that garnered four La Liga titles and the Champions League during a six-year period.
Ivan Rakitic believes Lionel Messi is ahead of other Barcelona legends
Messi has been regarded as the greatest player of his generation, having won a record six Ballon d’Or awards. The Barcelona skipper has established himself as a focal point in the team and he has become Barca’s all-time record goalscorer.
Raktiic is however thinking he is head and shoulders above legendary figures of bygone eras.
Speaking with FIFA.com, the 32-year-old midfielder said is 100 percent on another level.
“One hundred percent football. It doesn’t matter who you are, you just have to watch and enjoy this guy. He’s on another level.
“With all respect to the other greats, there’s only one number one – it’s Leo. To play 311 games next to him, it was a dream.
“I enjoyed it so, so much. I just want to say this: ‘Thank you for everything, Leo, because you’ll never know how much it meant to me to play next to you.'”
After being a surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou last season, Rakitic returned to Sevilla in September. The Croatian international however said he will always look back on his time with Barca fondly for both professional and personal reasons.
“Six years, 311 games – the foreigner with the fourth-most games after Messi, Dani Alves and Mascherano – 13 titles. I think I can say that I’m part of the history of the club.
“I got so much out of those six years. I will have Barcelona – the club, the city, the people – in my heart for the rest of my life. My family got bigger there – my youngest daughter was born in Barcelona.
“I’m really proud of my time there and will always cherish it.”
The Ronaldo-Messi conversation will go on
Although, there has several discussions on who is the best between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, that conversation is not expected to en soon.
But putting Messi ahead of other legends before him might be a tall order.
Not having FIFA world Cup and the Copa America in his kitty might just be a stumbling block from being named all-time great.