Ivan Rakitic has been omitted from the Barcelona squad to face Villarreal on Sunday night, sparking rumours of an imminent exit for the Croatian midfielder. 


Luis Enrique has not included Rakitic for Barca's first La Liga match after the Christmas break amid rumours that the player has grown disgruntled with his lack of first-team opportunities. 


Rakitic immediately established himself as an indispensable presence ​following his move from Sevilla in 2014 but has fallen out of favour in recent weeks, including being substituted at half-time during the draw against Real Sociedad. 

After playing 70 minutes of Barca's defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey midweek, the 28-year-old is not part of the 18-man squad that travels to El Madrigal on Sunday night, being left out for 'technical reasons' according to the club's official website. 


Rakitic is thought to be coveted by Manchester United, Juventus and Chelsea, among others, who may look to capitalise on the reported relationship breakdown between Rakitic and the Barcelona hierarchy. 


After the Croatian complained of a lack of playing time, Enrique responded strongly: “I don’t care about controversies. I’m the one who takes decisions here.”

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

"I'm really happy with his commitment, his attitude," he said in a media conference. "I have to take criticism and I will continue to take them for what I think is best for the team.


"I've got no interest in justifying myself to a player of mine. I'm not going to do that. Rakitic has been and will be a good player for Barca."

FC Barcelona v Hercules - Copa del Rey