Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic said he would “throw myself off a bridge” for Luis Enrique, such is his admiration for his manager.
In an interview with France Football magazine (h/t Ian Holyman of ESPN FC), Rakitic praised the coach who signed him from Sevilla in 2014.
Luis Enrique has helped me enormously. He gave me confidence straight away, as did my teammates, which enabled me to work calmly. It’s the ‘Mister’ who asked the club to sign me. If I had to throw myself off a bridge for him, I would do it without hesitation. With a look or a smile, he gives you the confidence necessary to succeed.
Rakitic’s glowing comments about his manager do not arguably reflect Enrique’s selection decisions in recent months.
While the Croatia international started the season as a Barca regular, he has not featured in La Liga since being substituted after an hour of their 1-1 El Clasico draw with Real Madrid on Dec. 3, as shown by Transfermarkt.
However, a hamstring injury suffered by in-form Rafinha could now hand Rakitic the chance to regain his place in the starting lineup, should Enrique turn to him for the match against Real Sociedad on Thursday.
Barcelona revealed Rafinha’s setback on social media:
📌 [MEDICAL ANNOUNCEMENT] @Rafinha to miss Real Sociedad trip with hamstring injury: https://t.co/B8AgeHX4D0 #FCBLive pic.twitter.com/FSTdtRKnS3
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 17, 2017
Per France Football’s report, Rakitic also outlined his appreciation of former Barca team-mate Xavi Hernandez for his guidance upon arriving at Camp Nou three years ago.
The pair played alongside each other for just one season before the Spain legend Xavi left to join Qatar club Al Sadd, but Rakitic has fond memories:
“I learned so much from [Xavi] on and off the pitch, during our away trips, in the dressing-room. I took advantage of every moment by his side during that season. What Xavi gave this club, his teammates and the fans is unique.”
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
On his day, Rakitic can be a highly versatile and effective performer. But he has struggled to pin down a regular berth at the Spanish giants as Enrique attempts to overhaul league leaders Real.
The 28-year-old is a real driving force of energy and creativity in midfield who can often unlock a defence with a killer pass. His ability to shoot from long range means he also carries a useful goal threat from the middle of the park.
As with any manager facing the pressure to get results, Enrique is likely to welcome such gushing praise from one of his players.
However, it appears unlikely to change his view on the make-up of the Barcelona midfield.