Barcelona midfielder Rakitic: Messi benched? He's still happy

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After long-standing negotiations Messi finally put pen to paper last month on a new deal to remain at Barca until 2021, with a eye-watering £617million buyout clause included in the contract.

Barca had somehow managed to get to a stage where the five time Ballon d'Or victor was not far removed from being able to negotiate a free transfer away from the Camp Nou in January.

Messi's stats, success and innumerable broken records back up the money he'll be earning though, with 524 goals in 605 Barca appearances to his name along with eight La Liga titles, five Copa Del Reys, four Champions Leagues and three FIFA Club World Cups.

"The important thing is that he's happy here".

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"I think this time away from the national side has done him good and judging by the times we spoke, it has made him see things differently", Messi said.

Although coach Jorge Sampaoli selected him in his first game in charge in June, he has left him out of all seven matches since.

Meanwhile, Rakitic hopes Messi's countryman and Argentina team-mate Javier Mascherano, 33, stays at the Nou Camp. He's working hard so he can be with us as soon as possible, ' Rakitic added.

Ivan Rakitic has admitted that playing alongside Lionel Messi "is always special" and says that it is important Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde manages the forward's playing time. As a person and a player he's very important for the team'.

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