Rakitic: Messi is like Gaudi

Rakitic compared the five-time Ballon d'Or winner to famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, and said he needed to have a strong support behind him to succeed.

Ivan Rakitic (right) calls himself Lionel Messi's assistant on the football pitch.

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is usually compared to the all-time greats such as Pele or Diego Maradona, but teammate Ivan Rakitic had one from left-field for the Argentinean. Rakitic compared the five-time Ballon d'Or winner to famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.

Gaudi was responsible for the design and construction of some of Barcelona's most iconic buildings - including the Sagrada Familia - and Rakitic said Messi is comparable to the architect for his genius on the field. But like Gaudi, Messi has to have strong support behind him to succeed.

"Just talent is not enough," Rakitic explained to El Pais. "If you take the best in every position, it will not be the best team. We can speak about Gaudi - he was a genius, he had unique ideas. But behind him there was a maths expert, with a structural plan, to support the genius idea. Or he would not have put up those buildings.

"They would be very pretty, but they would fall down. 

'I would be his assistant'

"If Messi were an architect he would be Gaudi, [Jacques] Herzog and [Pierre] De Meuron, [Norman] Foster and the minimalism of [Ludwig] Mies van der Rohe. I would be his assistant, as I am now."

Rakitic has adapted well to life at Barcelona, with the Croatia international now a regular in Luis Enrique's side. He said while the team's star front trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are gifted, they always put in their fair share of hard work.

"They know that behind them they have a support, and we know we have them," Rakitic said. "We work hard to win games and if they help us that is good for everyone. [Messi, Neymar, Suarez] also run, and sacrifice themselves for the others, and score their goals. The important thing is to be together and make a common effort."

Barcelona is in action on Saturday when it faces fierce rival Real Madrid.

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