Ivan Rakitic Names The Best Player In The World, It's Not Lionel Messi
Forget Lionel Messi, Ivan Rakitic has named a Real Madrid player as the best in the world.
No prize for guessing; It's Luka Modric.
The Barcelona midfielder has been praising his Real Madrid counterpart by calling him 'the best player in the world this year' following his heroics for both club and country.
Modric pulled strings in the middle of the park for Real Madrid and Croatia, guiding his side to Champions League glory, while skippering his country to their first ever World Cup final.
"Luka is now La Liga's big gun, he is the best player in the world this year and we Croats are very proud of him," Rakitic told Novi list via Goal.
"I wish him that last prize that is left for him to win [the Ballon d'Or] because he absolutely deserves it."
Modric bagged the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award ahead of Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo, and the 32-year-old is a candidate to scoop another individual honour in the shape of the Ballon d'Or.
Rakitic added: "Those that are jealous of Luka, let them die in their jealousy!
"I am proud of him and as happy as if I was winning those awards!
"We've been together in national team for 11 years, went through a lot, I love him as my brother.
"I am happy he decided to stay in national team, I don't know what my decision would have been if he retired."
:trophy: WINNER :trophy:
:flag_hr: @HNS_CFF #UEFAawards #UCLdraw pic.twitter.com/l0JxMnAEXw
- UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 30, 2018
Following Croatia's brilliant campaign in Russia during the summer, a few players retired.
And retirement did cross Rakitic's mind though he still has the desire to represent his nation.
"Yes, I did consider retiring from Croatia, I thought a lot, spoke to my coach, even more to my wife, only to realise my wish to play for Croatia was stronger than anything else, it was hard to say goodbye.
"My heart decided. There is no greater motive in the world but to play for Croatia and put your hand on your heart as you hear your national anthem! So I can't wait to join the team in Elche for the Spain game.
"Croatia still has great young players but we shouldn't put pressure on them to replace Mandzukic, Subasic and Corluka immediately.
"Of course they will be missed, but we have to let those young talents write their own story with Croatia."
The 2018 World Cup finalists play Portugal then Jordan over the international break.