A life in football could have turned out far differently for Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who has revealed he turned down the chance to sign for Chelsea in his teenage years.
At the age of 16, Rakitic was emerging from the Basel academy when the west Londoners came calling, but he told FourFourTwo of his decision to remain in Switzerland at the time, per the Daily Star's Colin Harvey:
I wanted to stay at home.
I had a really special relationship with the president of Basel.
It was much better for me to do pre-season with the first team there and then work my way gradually to the top.
There was another guy in my situation, Jonas Elmer, who moved from Zurich to Chelsea at the age of 17.
He ended up playing in the second division in Switzerland. Maybe that could have been me.
I don’t want to say it's always better to stay where you are in that situation, but my decision was to stay at home with my family and it worked well for me.
Eleven years down the line, one would be hard-pressed to argue against Rakitic's decision for a career path, having clinched a historic European and domestic treble with Barcelona last season.
The playmaker is clearly enjoying his football in Catalonia, too, after adding the European Super Cup to his list of trophies, having won four major titles with the Blaugrana in just a year:
Chelsea certainly wouldn't reject the chance to sign a player of Rakitic's metronomic quality these days, with the 27-year-old acting as a reliable conduit for the passing masters of world football.
Last season saw Rakitic score eight goals and make 10 assists across all competitions, according to Transfermarkt, serving as an heir to the throne of departed veteran Xavi.
Meanwhile, Blues boss Jose Mourinho is settled on a midfield starring Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic, who are by no means small talents in their own rights.
But Rakitic is content in how things have come to fruition, basing his football philosophy around a happy and easy-going approach, he told Spanish newspaper El Pais earlier this summer, per Barcastuff:
Mourinho appears to be in the hunt for new midfield faces, too, after Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported interest in Juventus general Paul Pogba was reaching fever pitch, per James Cambridge of the Daily Express.
In a way, Rakitic's willingness to resist Chelsea's interest as a youngster depicts the kind of play that makes him so effective; the preference to wait and pounce when the right opening emerges rather than make a snap judgement.
Although Rakitic may not serve as prominent a role at Barca as he did with Sevilla, the player's influence is no less important in pushing the machine forward as one of the equally essential cogs.
Perhaps, in another life, Chelsea would have been the ones to prosper from the Croatia international's significant passing influence, but their loss ultimately turned out to be Barcelona's gain.