Messi is generally regarded as the greatest player of his generation, but Rakitic (32) thinks he’s head and shoulders above all football legends both past and present.
In an interview FIFA.com the Croatian midfielder said:
“One hundred per cent 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.'”
Rakitic who recently returned to Sevilla after being deemed surplus to requirements at Camp Nou, also said that he will always part of the history of Barcelona FC.
He recalled some of his achievements that makes him a Camp Nou legend.
“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,” he added.
“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.