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Mikel Arteta plays down Barcelona speculation

The Gunners boss has been linked with a return to the club where he started his playing career.

Mikel Arteta insists he is fully focused on doing "much better" at Arsenal after he was linked with the Barcelona job earlier this week.

Reports surfaced in Spain at the start of the week claiming presidential candidate Joan Laporta was eyeing a move for Gunners boss Arteta if he won the race to return to Barca.

It was during his previous spell in the role that Laporta appointed Pep Guardiola as the head coach and ushered in an era of great success.

Arteta went on to work under Guardiola at Manchester City and took over as Arsenal manager in December 2019.

Joan Laporta (left) is running to be Barcelona president once again.
Joan Laporta (left) is running to be Barcelona president once again. (Nick Potts/PA)

Having come through the famed La Masia academy at Barca, Arteta is now said to be on a managerial shortlist for Laporta – should he be elected on March 7 – although sources close to the campaign have reportedly distanced themselves from a move for the 38-year-old.

"There is always going to be speculation when there are elections in Barcelona, it's a huge team," Arteta said when asked about being linked to the job, currently occupied by Ronald Koeman.

"Obviously I was raised there as a player and there is always going to be links. But I am fully focused to the job that I have to do here, which we have a lot to do, and I am really enjoying it.

"What I can tell you is I feel privileged to manage this football club and that I'm extremely happy."

Arteta won the FA Cup and Community Shield during his first year in charge at the Emirates Stadium and saw his job title change from head coach to manager during a reshuffle of the executive team in September.

The positional change did not include a new contract for Arteta, whose Arsenal side currently sit 10th in the Premier League, with his current deal running until 2023.

Asked if he had had talks over fresh terms recently, the Spaniard replied: "No.

Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to the FA Cup less than eight months after his appointment.
Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to the FA Cup less than eight months after his appointment. (Catherine Ivill/PA)

"We are in the middle of the season. We have a lot to play for and at the moment it is not a priority.

"I think that's okay. I still have a contract here. I am happy here and I don't think it is something urgent.

"Today and tomorrow I am the manager of Arsenal football club and I am really enjoying it. And I want to do much better than what we have done."

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