Scouting Report: Is Ivan Rakitic Barcelona's Upgrade over Cesc Fabregas?

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Scouting Report: Is Ivan Rakitic Barcelona's Upgrade over Cesc Fabregas?
Darko Bandic/Associated Press

Sevilla's Croatian international Ivan Rakitic is aiming to make a big impression at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which sets him up nicely for his impending move to Barcelona, per Sport (h/t Lucas Brown at Sky Sports). 

Is Rakitic a viable replacement for Barcelona central midfielder Cesc Fabregas? Here is a scouting report on Rakitic, a 26-year-old 6'0", 165-pound Croatian footballer. 

Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

 

Positives

Rakitic is a complete midfielder, who can start as a No. 6, No. 8 and a No. 10. 

Source: Marca.com.
Source: UEFA.com.

Rakitic is competitive, leads by example and was an important cog in Sevilla's UEFA Europa League winning team. 

Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

Rakitic is a great short-intermediate passer, possesses superlative technical ability, is a creative outlet and routinely conjures up important plays. 

One example was when he nutmegged Levante substitute Nabil El Zhar, accelerated past Victor Camarasa, and smashed the ball past goalkeeper Keylor Navas, one of the best shot-stoppers in La Liga.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Rakitic is a genius in possession, as was evident when he flicked the ball over Real Madrid centre-back Pepe and forced Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane out.

This enabled Sevilla centre-forward Carlos Bacca to make a run behind Real Madrid's defence and receive a finesse instep pass from Rakitic.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.
Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Give Rakitic space and he will unleash a precise shot, as Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez found out.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Rakitic is Sevilla's set-piece specialist.

He floated in a free-kick to create a goal for Sevilla centre-back Federico Fazio and curled a free-kick past Rayo Vallecano goalkeeper Ruben Martinez.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.
Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Barcelona are signing Rakitic, a player in career-best form, who can emulate Fabregas' inventiveness. 

League Only Cesc Fabregas Ivan Rakitic
     
Goals 8 12
Shots Per Goal 6.5 6.7
Assists 13 10
Key Passes Per Game 1.6 2.3
     

Rakitic averaged more key passes per game (passes leading to goalscoring chances) and total chances created than Fabregas.

Source: Squawka.com.

 

Negatives

Rakitic is an expansive passer, hence why he takes more risks than Fabregas, and is more prone to turning over possession. 

Rakitic's pass-completion percentage is 8.7 percent below the Barcelona average (88.4). 

League Only Cesc Fabregas Ivan Rakitic
     
Pass Completion % 87 79.7
Passes Per Game 60.7 51.2
Long-Pass Completion 
%
78.4 69.4
Long-Passes Per Game 3.7 5
     

Source: Squawka.com.

Another concern in Rakitic's game is he is hit-and-miss from 12 yards out. 

Rakitic dragged his penalty slightly wide against Levante, and it hit the post instead of the bottom corner of the net.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Against Real Madrid, Lopez dived the wrong direction, but Rakitic blasted his penalty over the crossbar in a Roberto Baggio-esque manner.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves guessed the direction of Rakitic's spot-kick and saved it. 

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

Rakitic hooked his penalty way wide against Rayo Vallecano.

Source: LigaBBVA.com.

 

Bottom Line

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague tweeted that Barcelona are entertaining the idea of selling Fabregas. 

Rakitic is a world-class footballer, who can re-create Fabregas' attacking output and would be a viable replacement. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com

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