Luka Modric (Getty Images)
Rakitic grew up idolising Croatian midfield great Robert Prosinecki but says Modric, now a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid and Croatia's captain at the World Cup, is at the next level.
Rakitic says "not only is Luka the best player ever (for Croatia), but he is a great person, a leader and we are following him."
Croatia play Denmark in the last 16 at Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday. With many of Croatia's so-called golden generation into their 30s, including Modric and Rakitic, every game now is potentially their last together at a major tournament.
Rakitic says "if we at the end manage to lift this trophy, we go into international retirement happy."