The Croatia international had the chance to join the Blues from Basel when he was just 17-years-old, but turned them down. He has even used the case of Jonas Elmer as a warning to others about the dangers of moving to a bigger club when very young.
“I wanted to stay at home,” said Rakitic, “I had a really special relationship with the president of Basel. It was much better for me to do pre-season with the first team there and then work my way gradually to the top. There was another guy in my situation, Jonas Elmer, who moved from Zurich to Chelsea at the age of 17. He ended up playing in the second division in Switzerland.
“Maybe that could have been me. I don’t want to say it’s always better to stay where you are in that situation, but my decision was to stay at home with my family and it worked well for me.”
However, the 27-year-old is now open to a move to the top flight, and is especially drawn to it’s high-tempo style.
“Of course, I like it very much,” he answered when asked about a move, “a lot of my friends are playing in the Premier League; it’s a different style of football and I always enjoy playing in Europe against English teams. Maybe one day I can play there, too.
“I like how every game is always intense and how everybody lives for football. You can have a game like Crystal Palace vs Stoke where both teams are strong, powerful, fully committed and the crowd are fully behind their team.”
Having been a key part of the Blaugrana team which won La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Champions League last year, it is doubtful that the Catalan club will let him go very easily. If they were to be open to the transfer though, Stamford Bridge could be a potential destination.
The Stamford Bridge outfit were linked to central midfielder Paul Pogba of Juventus over the summer [respected journalist Tancredi Palmeri], showing that manager Jose Mourinho is keen to reinforce the position. The poor starts that Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas have made to the season may have made the Portuguese extra keen to bring in some extra competition to the area.