Ivan Rakitic admits those left behind at Barcelona wish that Neymar had not made a €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Brazilian forward became the most expensive player on the planet in the summer of 2017 when trading Catalunya for the French capital.
Barca responded to his sale by investing €105m in Ousmane Dembele, while their transfer record has been broken again during the current transfer window to land Philippe Coutinho in a €160m deal.
Rakitic, though, concedes that he would rather Neymar was still at Camp Nou and that a fearsome ‘MSN’ frontline with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez had not been broken up.
The Croatia international told Marca: “I'm not going to lie to you, I would prefer that Ney was here with us.
“Apart from being a great player, he is a friend and I am very fond of him.
“After he left, we have to continue. Barca is not one, two or five players. It is the biggest club in the world and we have to keep working.
“It would seem better to be able to count on him, but if he is not here, we join forces to be even better.”
While Neymar did edge his way through the exits at Camp Nou following intense speculation surrounding his future, Rakitic saw off rumours of his own to stay put.
The 29-year-old’s ongoing presence at Barcelona was questioned at times last season as he slipped out of favour under Luis Enrique, but he ultimately played his way to a new contract and insists he never gave any thought to moving on.
Rakitic added: “If one day I'm a coach, I will not want to explain everything.
“I am not a player who always goes to ask the coach or the club how things are going. And you don't always have to understand things.
“I did not understand it and I said it openly, but it is like that and what I had left was to work very hard and at the end of the season I was in the team again.
“It was a situation that someone else could explain better than me. I have not changed anything. I am the same and I do the same work.”