Ivan Rakitic has become an indispensable piece of Ernesto Valverde’s Barça. The Croatian has participated in all 20 official games played in 2017/18, including the Champions League, Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup, starting 15 and coming off the bench in the other five.
In the last five seasons only Andrés Iniesta, in season 2013/14 with Tata Martino in charge, had participated in the first 20 matches with the team. In that campaign, Iniesta played the first 22 games, a record that Rakitic would match should he participate at Mestalla and in the Cup against Murcia.
With the demands of current football, it is very unusual for a player to participate in as many consecutive matches without resting. Of all the teams in the five major leagues, only 15 players have played in all the games for their team. Higuaín (Juventus), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) and Marek Hamsik (Napoli) are the other untouchable names for their coaches this season.
Rakitic has been a pillar for Valverde. So much so that, since the arrival of the coach, the training match against Nàstic de Tarragona has been the only one he hasn’t played any part in. In every other game in the Valverde era, whether official or friendly, the Croat had minutes in midfield.