|Please can I play in your team Mr Bilic...|
As the rumours of discontent in the Barcelona camp continue to gather pace, a major focus has been the apparent falling out between manager Luis Enrique and star midfielder Ivan Rakitic. The Croatian dynamo has found himself largely excluded from the starting XI over the past two months and despite putting a brave face on in the media, it is known that his agent is exploring options beyond the Nou Camp with a host of Premiership clubs interested.
Rakitic is an experienced international with over 80 caps and was Croatian footballer of the year in 2015. Although he grew up and represented Switzerland all the way up to U21 level, he was persuaded by Slaven Bilic to declare for Croatia in 2007. The pair enjoyed a successful relationship for five years until Bilic moved into club management in 2012.
Rakitic is now reaching the prime of his career at 28 years old and although his contract runs until 2019 he is reported as deeply unhappy at Barca, with many observers struggling to comprehend exactly why he has fallen out of favour. To add insult to injury, Rakitic was brought on during Tuesday's mauling by PSG in the 73rd minute after the game had ended with the Parisians ahead at 4-0.
West Ham have indicate a determination to bolster their squad this Summer and with the attacking midfield now firing well with Lanzini, Snodgrass, Antonio and Feghouli all offering options, attentions are likely to turn to the engine where Rakitic is a world beater. Moreover, the acquisition of a mobile ball-winning midfielder would free up Cheik Kouyate to return to his previous more offensive role in the side.
With Man City and Chelsea all watching carefully, Hammers fans will be warmed by the reminder that Rakitic has a favourite English club - having revealed in 2015 that he would love to see West Ham win the Premiership.
As this crazy season continues to unfold it looks like circumstances are moving towards a new Bilic-Rakitic partnership at the Olympic Stadium for the 2017-18 season.