Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has branded the media “untrustworthy” after responding to reports linking midfielder Ivan Rakitic with a January move to Manchester City.
The Croatian star was surprisingly left out of the squad for the club’s first match of 2017 against Villarreal – adding fuel to the fire that he could be set for City following reports he was heading there in his homeland.
The report claimed Rakitic is keen to work under former Barca boss Pep Guardiola but his current coach dismissed the rumours as baseless.
“Rakitic’s absence has nothing to do with that story,” Luis Enrique said after the 1-1 draw with Villarreal. “Media reports, be they from Spain or Croatia, are not even a quarter trustworthy.”
The coach added to Movistar+: “It is my job to pick the squad and the first XI, that’s what I have to do.”
Barca vice-president Jordi Mestre backed up Luis Enrique’s comments, insisting that the Blaugrana hope to extend Rakitic’s contract.
“We are negotiating Rakitic’s renewal,” he claimed. “We love him not only as a player but also as a person. He has a contract and we want him to stay.”
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The midfielder has been a regular for Barcelona since signing from Sevilla in 2014 and was also recently linked with a move to Manchester United.