Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic had the opportunity to play with Argentine star Lionel Messi for 311 games during their time at Barcelona. Reminiscing about this experience, Rakitic said it was a 'dream' to play alongside Messi, who is the only number one in world football.
Rakitic lauded Messi and said the Argentine is "on another level" to all the greats of the sport that have come before him.
Rakitic moved to Camp Nou from Sevilla in the summer of 2014 and went on to appear in over 300 games for the club across all competitions, scoring 35 goals while also providing 42 assists.
"One hundred per cent football. It doesn't matter who you are, you just have to watch and enjoy this guy. He's on another level. With all respect to the other greats, there's only one number one - it's Leo. To play 311 games next to him, it was a dream," the midfielder told FIFA.com.
"I enjoyed it so, so much. I just want to say this: 'Thank you for everything, Leo, because you'll never know how much it meant to me to play next to you," he added.
The duo enjoyed an effective partnership that garnered four La Liga titles and the Champions League during a six-year period.
Rakitic returned to Sevilla in September after being deemed surplus to requirements at Camp Nou but says he will always look back on his time with Barca fondly for both professional and personal reasons.
"I got so much out of those six years. I will have Barcelona - the club, the city, the people - in my heart for the rest of my life. My family got bigger there - my youngest daughter was born in Barcelona. I'm really proud of my time there and will always cherish it," he said.