SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 06: Ivan Rakitic of FC Barcelona looks on during the match between Sevilla FC vs FC Barcelona as part of La Liga at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

According to Sport, Manchester United have retained their interest in Ivan Rakitic. Barcelona are reportedly keen on cashing in on the Croatian international as they look to fund a move for the potential return of prodigal son Neymar. However, the Catalan giants won’t let him go on a cheap, with the club valuing the World Cup finalist at around €50 million.

How will Rakitic solve Man United’s midfield problems?

Rakitic’s addition to the club will provide Manchester United with the ideal alternative, should star player Paul Pogba end up leaving the club this summer. The Frenchman has already been linked with a move to Real Madrid, with Zinedine Zidane reportedly identifying him as the number one midfield target.

Aside from that, the ex-Schalke prodigy will offer the much-needed experience and leadership quality that United have desperately lacked in the past few years. He has made nearly 300 La Liga appearances, and 97 Bundesliga appearances throughout his career and this experience could be useful to a relatively young United squad next season.

Most importantly, Rakitic can be a direct replacement for the departed Ander Herrera. The Spaniard joined PSG for free after seeing out his contract at Old Trafford at the end of last season.

How will Rakitic fit into Solskjaer’s system?

Solskjaer has preferred a 4-3-1-2 shape during the backend of last season. And if the Norwegian continues with a similar shape in this new campaign, Rakitic can be utilised as a number eight. Pogba, if he remains, is likely to occupy the additional advanced midfield role, with either of Nemanja Matic or Scott McTominay operating as the holding midfielder.

How does the Croatian stack up against the departed Herrera?

Rakitic will be expected to fill in the void left by Herrera. The Spaniard was known for his tenacity and willingness to win back possession for his team, having notably attempted 4.3 tackles per game with a success rate of 58%. Rakitic, to that end, managed a paltry 1.6 tackles per game and had a similar success rate of 56%.

Furthermore, Herrera was an excellent reader of the game that allowed him to cut off passes in midfield. He averaged an impressive 1.7 interceptions per game last season. But, Rakitic isn’t far behind, making 1.5 interceptions.

And the Barcelona star is significantly better when it comes to passing and ball distribution. The 31-year-old attained a pass completion rate of 91% compared to Herrera’s 87%. He also has far greater work-ethic while his leadership qualities and fighting spirit would ideally make him an upgrade over the PSG-bound midfielder.

Stat courtesy: Whoscored

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Anas Molla

An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.