By 90Min
September 01, 2019

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was irked by suggestions Ivan Rakitic is close to an exit after the midfielder was left on the bench for a third consecutive game.

A late penalty from Roberto Torres denied La Blaugrana victory over Osasuna on Saturday, with Rakitic an unused substitute as his side's stuttering start to 2019/20 continued. The Croatian has been linked with a transfer away from Catalunya for much of the summer, though the transfer window is due to close on 2nd September for most leagues in Europe.

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Rakitic has been an integral figure at Barça since arriving from Sevilla for a fee of £18m in 2014. He has made a total of 269 appearances for the club, playing in over 50 matches in each of his five campaigns at the Nou Camp.

Speaking after his men drew 2-2 at Estadio El Sadar, Valverde was asked whether the 31-year-old's exclusion from the starting lineup meant he would soon be departing, with the Spaniard replying (as quoted by Sport): "What do you want me to say?

"Last year he was playing and Nelson [Semedo] was on the bench. The other day he played well and we stuck with the same team, with Sergi Roberto in midfield. We have a lot to choose from. It's a great question, but it could be about anyone."

The Blaugrana boss also took the time to praise 16-year-old goalscorer Ansu Fati, who grabbed the leveller in Pamploma having been brought on at half-time.

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

Discussing the winger's eye-catching performance, Valverde stated: "We thought we lacked a spark [before we made the substitution]. 

"He's a young player and there are a lot of good things about him: dribbling, confidence, he forces the opposition back. He came on when we were losing, at a tough ground, and he responded well."

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