When Ivan Rakitic left Sevilla for Barcelona in 2014, it hit both the club and the player hard.
The Croatian had spent three and a half years at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, making 149 appearances, scoring 32 goals and making 41 assists.
“I never though it was going to be this painful,” a teary Rakitic said upon his departure.
Sevilla were left with the tough job of replacing him, opting to sign Ever Banega on Unai Emery’s request.
“He found somewhere where the fans understood him and enjoyed his football – the Sanchez-Pizjuan,” Emery said of the Argentine.
In the summer of 2016, Banega left to join Inter but would return to Andalusia just one year later.
In the last two and a half years, Banega has been key part of Sevilla’s team, earning himself a spot in the Argentina squad for the 2018 World Cup in the process.
This summer, after signing off with a Europa League win, the midfielder has left for a new adventure with Al Shabab in Saudi Arabia.
Sporting director Monchi once again finds himself in a position where he needs to reinforce his midfield and replace a club icon.
Coincidentally, it could be the man Banega replaced in 2014 that comes in to fill the space he’s left now – Rakitic.
Sevilla won’t find it easy to bring Rakitic back from the Camp Nou, though, even though they’ve already agreed personal terms with him.
However, there isn’t too much room for manoeuvre for Barcelona, who are aware that the Croatian’s contract expires next summer.
The former Sevilla player is eager to return.