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Mikel Arteta slams ‘totally fake’ Barcelona link

Mikel Arteta at a press conference before Arsenal's Premier League match at Nottingham Forest

Mikel Arteta has reacted furiously to reports in Spain linking him to the Barcelona job, describing it as upsetting and “totally fake news”.

Spanish newspaper Sport reported on Sunday that Arteta had told his entourage he was looking to leave north London for Barcelona this summer.

Numerous sources were quick to refute those suggestions and Arteta responded strongly on Monday as he insisted that he had no intention of ending his “beautiful journey” at Arsenal.

Speculation over the Barcelona job has ramped up as a result of Xavi’s announcement at the weekend that he will be stepping down at the end of this campaign.

Arteta has a strong association with Barcelona, having come through their academy as a youngster, but he made clear that he feels he is “in the right place” at Arsenal.

“That is totally fake news,” Arteta said. “I don’t know where it is coming from and it is totally untrue. I am really upset about it.

“I could not believe it. It has no source; nothing. We have to be very cautious when you talk about personal things, to put it in the way that it was put yesterday.

“I am in the right place, with the right people. I feel really good about it. As I have said many times, I am immersed in a beautiful journey with this club, with these players and staff, our people, and there is still a lot to do.

“I am really cautious when I talk publicly about my personal things and when someone puts a statement saying something I said or did, it is upsetting.

“I understand we are in this industry but I don’t think anyone deserves to hear news like that. I have always been really straight and always said the complete opposite: how happy I am, how grateful I am and how much I enjoy where I am now. That is why I am upset.”

Arteta (centre) attended Barcelona's famed youth academy La Masia
Arteta (centre) attended La Masia, Barcelona's famed youth academy - Football Barcelona

Arteta is contracted to Arsenal for another 18 months. There have not yet been any discussions over a new deal for the 41-year-old but he said he was relaxed about the situation.

“Things come in a natural way,” Arteta said. “When the time is right we will have those [contract] discussions and find the best way to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, Arteta has said he uses meditation as one of the tools to help him unwind from the stresses of modern management.

The imminent departure of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who said last week that he was “running out of energy”, has highlighted the emotional and mental strain of leading a Premier League club.

“It is a lot, every single day,” Arteta said. “Every day you need to have moments [where you disconnect]. I have moments during my day when I do certain things to bring everything down. Your brain goes 100mph and you cannot see the picture with clarity — you need to bring it down sometimes.

“There are ways to do it — your family, sometimes meditation, sometimes sport is a great way to put those things away, talking to people. There are a lot of things that you need. You need holidays, days off, to stay away from your phone at times.

“I would do that [meditation] in the afternoon, yes. And reading. I love reading, sitting there and reading about a topic that can inspire you to prepare for a game or develop a thought.”

Arsenal travel to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night and will once again be without Thomas Partey, who is yet to recover from his long-term injury. Declan Rice and Gabriel Magalhaes are also doubts for the game, due to hamstring tightness and a knee problem respectively.

Partey’s ongoing absence has been a source of frustration for Arsenal, with Arteta saying that the midfielder is still a key member of the squad despite the £105 million signing of Rice last summer.

“We need Thomas to have a big impact in the next two months,” Arteta said. “He is a player who can impact the team in a really powerful way. We need him fit and available. It makes us better. We are better when Thomas is in the team.”

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