Mikel Arteta has slammed a “totally fake” report that he has told Arsenal he is leaving this summer to take the soon to be vacant Barcelona job, warning that he is “really upset” by speculation over his future.
Sport, a Barcelona publication, reported on Sunday night that Arteta had already made his mind up to step into the vacancy created when Xavi announced, less than 24 hours earlier, that he would be leaving at the end of the season. The report was swiftly dismissed by several sources close to Arsenal and has created significant anger at the Emirates Stadium.
Arteta himself was equally furious when he addressed the media ahead of Tuesday’s trip to face Nottingham Forest in the Premier League. “That’s totally fake news,” he said of the Barcelona report. “What you read yesterday, I don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s totally untrue and I’m really upset about it.
“I could not believe it. I don’t know where it’s coming from, it’s got no sources, it’s got nothing and I think we have to be very cautious when we talk about personal things, to put it in the way that it was put yesterday.”
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Arteta is out of contract at the end of next season but his status is a matter on which all parties are rather relaxed. Third in the Premier League and through to the last 16 of the Champions League, Arsenal have shown significant improvement in recent years under their head coach. However, he would be the first to say that the job is not done until this team has won major silverware.
“I’m in the right place,” he said. “I’m with the right people. I feel really good about it and, as I said many times, I’m immersed in a beautiful journey with this football club, these players, this staff and our people and I’m investing still a lot for them.
“I’ve got a strong relationship with the board, with [sporting director] Edu, the team, with ownership. Things come in a natural way and we’ve always done it that way and it’s been done really well. When the time is right we’ll have those discussions and I’ll think about the best way to do that.
“There is a lot to do here as well, we all share that ambition, and you can feel it as well that we want more. We’re not satisfied, and the club wants to take another push and another level in everything that we’re doing. This is where we are, everybody on board to achieve it and I’m certainly on board.”
Arsenal are not the only club unimpressed with speculation over the Barcelona job. Speaking to a panel of supporters over the weekend, Thomas Tuchel spoke of the appeal of working abroad and working in La Liga. That inevitably prompted speculation over the Nou Camp vacancy, to which Bayern Munich reacted furiously.
“Our head coach Thomas Tuchel was asked by supporters on Sunday as part of a fan club visit about his coaching career and his previous experiences abroad at Paris Saint-Germain and naturally provided information about this during the discussion,” said a statement from chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen and sporting director Christoph Freund. “He also answered general questions from fans about Spain as a footballing country. He never spoke about Xavi Hernandez and his successor, as was falsely claimed afterwards.
“We will no longer accept such non-factual statements directed against our coach, which always come from the same source.”