Replacing you might not be a great idea! – Buffon grateful for Rakitic tribute

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Ivan Rakitic spoke for a generation of football fans when he described the difficulty of witnessing Gianluigi Buffon's international heartbreak, but his offer of a place in Croatia's midfield has been kindly rejected by the Italy great.

Buffon's 175-cap career for the Azzurri ended in tears as Italy missed out on the World Cup for the first time in 60 years following a play-off defeat to Sweden.

Like millions watching the world over, Rakitic found it tough to see a legend of the game miss out in such agonising fashion and spoke glowingly of the Juventus stalwart ahead of Barcelona's trip to Turin in the Champions League on Wednesday.

"I would give up my place in the World Cup for him; when you see him crying, you want to cry too," said Rakitic.

"A player like him cannot say goodbye like that."

Barca team-mate Jordi Alba was also effusive in his praise for Buffon, calling him "the best goalkeeper in history".

And Buffon was grateful to receive the support of his opponents, but turned down Rakitic's offer to replace him in Croatia's midfield.

"Dear @ivanrakitic, as a goalkeeper I might still play but playing for Croatia as a midfielder in your place might not be a great idea: I am saying it for your good sake," he wrote on Twitter.

"Joking apart, your words have been a great gift. Thanks to you and @JordiAlba: my jersey is waiting for you."