Ivan Rakitic has admitted he was never close friends with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez during his six years playing alongside them at Barcelona.
The Croatian brought his time at the Nou Camp to an end this summer by sealing a return to Sevilla.
Despite enjoying Champions League glory together in 2015 and claiming four LaLiga titles, he admits there was only ‘respect’ between himself and the club’s star duo.
‘I’ve said my side,’ Rakitic told El Desmarque. ‘My relationship with them was never one of close friends. I believe that’s hard in a group of 23 or 24 players.
‘My closest friends were Andres Iniesta, [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen, [Kevin-Prince] Boateng and Junior Firpo last season.
‘But I respect them both. They were my team-mates for six years and are very important players. I’ve always got on incredibly well and have the utmost respect for them.
‘During the coronavirus lockdown, we’ve all been very close together, almost neighbours. I’m very thankful for how they’ve treated me over the years.’
The 32-year-old was one of the first players shown the door by new boss Ronald Koeman this summer, with Suarez set to follow him.
Reports in Spain on Monday claimed the Uruguayan had terminated his contract there after being told he was not part of the Dutchman’s plans.
Messi however is staying put despite announcing his desire to leave after he was informed by club president Josep Bartomeu the only way he could go was if he paid the £630million exit clause in his contract.