Mikel Arteta has played down speculation that he’s on a shortlist to replace Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman if presidential candidate Joan Laporta wins the club’s election on 7 March.
Laporta, who previously held the presidency from 2003-2010, was the man responsible for putting Pep Guardiola in the Nou Camp dugout and is said to be an admirer of the City manager’s protege.
With a well-documented history of aggressively pursuing Arsenal targets – Thierry Henry, Alex Hleb and Cesc Fabregas included – the concern is that Arteta, who spent several years at Barcelona academy, could eventually be unsettled by a prolonged campaign to get his attention.
It doesn’t seem to be an immediate issue but all floods start with a drip, drip, drip. For his part, Arteta says his sole focus is on Arsenal.
“There is always going to speculation when there are elections in Barcelona,” he said on Thursday.
“It’s a huge team. Obviously, I was raised there as a player and they’re always going to be linked.
“I’m fully focused on the job that I have to do here, and we have a lot to do. I’m really enjoying it.
He added: “Today and tomorrow, I am the manager of Arsenal Football Club, and I’m really enjoying it. I want to do much better than what we’ve done.”
Arteta’s current contract at Arsenal runs until the summer of 2022. The Gunners are thought to be keen to tie him down to a new deal but with the club struggling in mid-table and fighting to keep the season alive via the Europa League, it’s not exactly the moment to talk about extensions
Asked if negotiations were taking place already, Arteta made clear that they were not.
“We’re in the middle of the season,” he pointed out. “We have a lot to play for and at the moment it’s not a priority. That’s OK. I still have a contract here and I am happy here. I don’t think that’s something urgent.”