BARCELONA

Rakitic: I chose Barça shirt number because of Guardiola

Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic spoke to The Times ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match-up with Pep Guardiola's Man City.
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Ivan Rakitic, durante un entrenamiento con el Barcelona.
Miguel Ruiz Diario AS

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Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has talked of his admiration for legendary ex-Blaugrana player and coach Pep Guardiola, whose Manchester City side visit the Camp Nou this week.

Rakitic: I asked for Pep's number when I signed

In an interview with The Times' Henry Winter, the Croatia international admitted that the task of choosing a shirt number was a straightforward one when he joined the Catalans from Sevilla in summer 2014.

Midfielder Guardiola spent 11 years as a Barça player before later enjoying success in the dugout.

"I was not at Barça with him but when I came I asked for the number 4 because it was his number. It was really special for me," he said of the former midfield general ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash.

"I always feel Iniesta is dancing on the pitch"

Rakitic also spoke glowingly of Barça colleague Andrés Iniesta, telling Winter: "I always feel Iniesta is dancing on the pitch. It’s like when you hear classical music. Every step, he’s dancing with the ball."

Rakitic has backed Neymar to become the best player on the planet.

And when asked about Barcelona's fearsome strikeforce of Leo Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar, the 28-year-old backed the Brazilian to one day take over Messi's mantle as the world's top star.

"Neymar on way to being best"

"They’re really hungry, wanting to score all the time," he said of the trio, known as the 'MSN'. "Leo won everything but wants it again. If we speak about the best, it is Leo Messi. Neymar is on the way to being the next best."