Barcelona allay fears over Pep Guardiola’s bid to prise midfield maestro away

Barcelona have rubbished claims that Manchester City are set to sign midfielder Ivan Rakitic, despite speculation suggesting otherwise.

Prior to Sunday’s clash with Villarreal, Croatian publication Jutarnji List ran a report suggesting that the Croatian international was set for a switch to England to join Pep Guardiola’s revolution at Manchester City.

Further fuel was added to the rumour when Rakitic was left out of the squad by Luis Enrique, which suggested that all was not well within the Barca camp and that perhaps the 28-year-old was set to move on in the January transfer window.

However, Enrique moved to quickly dismiss talk of a possible exit after the game, and insisted that the decision to leave Rakitic out had nothing to do with rumours over his future as he sees the former Sevilla star as a key part of his plans moving forward.

“Rakitic’s absence has nothing to do with that story,” he told reporters, as noted by Goal. “Media reports, be they from Spain or Croatia, are not even a quarter trustworthy.”

“It is my job to pick the squad and the first XI, that’s what I have to do.”

It’s added in the report that Barca vice-president Jordi Mestre doubled down on Enrique’s assessment of the situation and revealed that Rakitic is in fact in negotiations to sign a new contract with the Blaugrana.

While it all sounds promising after concern was raised due to the transfer talk, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the Croatian’s influence and playing time has been reduced this season due to additional competition for places.

With Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez arriving to fight for places along with Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, Rakitic has been limited in his playing time and has made 21 appearances in all competitions but has scored just three goals and provided one assist.

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