Neymar decision to leave Barcelona for PSG was tough to take - Ivan Rakitic

Ivan Rakitic has told the BBC that Neymar's move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain was a "bad decision for me" but must be respected.

Neymar became the world's most expensive footballer when PSG paid €222 million to bring him to the French capital in August.

Rakitic said it had been difficult to accept the Brazil international's departure, adding: "For me, personally, it was really hard, not only because he's one of the biggest players -- also he's a big person.

"He was really important for our dressing room, and he's one of the best guys I know in football.

"So for me it was really a bad decision because I liked to have him in my team.

"But we have to respect Neymar's decision to move. If a team can buy him and he decides to leave Barcelona, we have to respect it and wish him the best of luck."

Midfielder Rakitic added that he hoped Neymar would "score a lot of goals and be happy in Paris," and stressed that Barca had to "be strong together without Neymar now."

They currently top the Liga table, with Lionel Messi having scored nine goals in five games, all of which have been won, to help them open up a seven-point lead over Real Madrid.

Rakitic said: "You just have to do a lot of things for him, because he's the best player in the world and maybe also in history -- and you have to know that he's different.

"It's easy to be at home and watch and say 'I can play that,' but if you are here, it's a little bit different.

"You just have to understand him. Each player has his position in the team.

"Also, nobody told Leo you can do whatever you want -- he has gone step by step to arrive at this level.

"And now he's there and we have to know that we have to do special things for him. And then if he can receive [possession] with three or four players in front of him, not with 10, it's easier for him."