Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic reportedly has a pact with manager Ernesto Valverde to play every game for the club after he agreed to turn down a €90 million (£80 million) move to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.
Albert Masnou of Sport wrote PSG were willing to stump up that fee for Rakitic in the most recent transfer window, but Valverde was determined to keep the Croat and agreed to what's become known at the club as the "PSG pact."
Rakitic, 30, has started in 15 of his 16 appearances for the Blaugrana this season and only missed one squad altogether—the 1-0 win over Cultural Leonesa in the first leg of their Copa del Rey round-of-32 clash in October.
The pact has come to light after Rakitic suffered an injury while on international duty with Croatia. A hamstring strain is set to keep him sidelined for three weeks, his longest absence since moving to Catalonia.
Rakitic has made at least 50 appearances in each of his four full seasons at the Camp Nou, racking up a total 231 games in the four-and-a-half years since joining from Sevilla.
Valverde addressed the media in late August, when rumours of PSG's interest in Rakitic were still afloat and underlined the midfielder as a fundamental part of his lineup, via Omnisport:
Rakitic has a contract at the Camp Nou until the summer of 2021. He's enjoyed a trophy-laden career at the Camp Nou—including three league crowns and a UEFA Champions League title—but it's understood he was considering the move to Paris because of the "huge deal he was being offered."
Just as Croatian compatriot Luka Modric is such an important, metronomic gem for Real Madrid, Rakitic stands as Barcelona's controlling presence in midfield, and the reported pact hints at just how important he is to Valverde's plans.
England manager Gareth Southgate also praised Croatia's absent architect ahead of his side's 2-1 UEFA Nations League win on Sunday, via Goal:
Mundo Deportivo (h/t Football Espana) reported Rakitic has missed only three games due to injury since joining Barcelona in June 2014.
The pact could present a problem for Barcelona down the line, however, after Valverde encountered some criticism last season for not rotating his squad properly. Rakitic could be one left open to fatigue unless given sufficient rest.
La Liga writer Simon Harrison suggested the coach still hasn't got the knack, when some experimentation in late September and early October saw Barca go four league matches without a win:
Valverde may hope to learn from his mistakes and hand certain stars more rest time this term, although Rakitic doesn't look likely to lose his place in the XI unless forced by injury.