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Mikel Arteta squashes Barcelona rumors

The Arsenal manager is “upset” with the rumors that made the rounds over the weekend.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Mikel Arteta emphatically rubbished rumors linking him with the soon-to-be-vacant Barcelona manager position. The reports surfaced over the weekend after Xavi announced he’d be stepping down at Barca at the end of the season — a soft landing that allows the club legend to save face amidst an abysmal run of form and that could galvanize his side to turn things around — but I digress.

The important news is that Mikel Arteta said he’s not going anywhere.

No, that’s totally fake news. What you read yesterday, I don’t know where it is coming from. It is totally untrue. I’m really upset about it...I don’t know where it’s coming from and it has no source, it has nothing, and I think we have to be very cautious when we talk about personal things to put it in the way it was put yesterday.

I’m in the right place. I’m with the right people. And as I’ve said many times, I’m immersed in a beautiful journey with this football club, with these players, with our staff, our people, and there is still a lot a lot to do.

When asked to elaborate about why the rumor upset him, Arteta said:

“One is a consequence of the other. First of all I’m really cautious when I talk publicly about my personal things. When someone puts a statement about what we’ve done personally. Secondly because I don’t think someone deserves to hear news like that. I’ve always said completely the opposite. That’s why I feel upset.”

The links came from Sport, a notoriously fickle Spanish paper with extremely close ties to the front office at Barcelona. On the surface, the links make sense. Arteta spent five years at La Masia, Barcelona’s academy before his transfer to Rangers.

But why would Mikel Arteta want to leave Arsenal for Barcelona, at least at this particular moment in time? The two clubs are headed in opposite directions. Barcelona are a mess with a mismatched roster and serious financial issues. Arsenal have rebuilt their roster according to Arteta’s vision and plan and have demonstrated they are willing to spend over £100M on individual players to push the club over the top.

Yes, Mikel Arteta might dream of managing his boyhood club (for what it’s worth, Real Sociedad is Arteta’s true boyhood club — San Sebastian is where he and close friend Xabi Alonso grew up). Honestly, Barca is the one job I think Arsenal should be concerned about him leaving North London to take. I don’t think he takes the Manchester City job, at least not directly from Arsenal. Real Madrid don’t hire Barcelona products (they don’t, right?).

And again, the timing isn’t right for him to leave for Barcelona. Even though his Arsenal contract expires in 18 months, it seems as if both he and the club would like to extend his stay in North London. Arteta said that “when the time is right” he, Edu, the board, and ownership will have those discussions.

This is just my personal speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the framework for a deal is already in place and both sides are waiting to see how things turn out this season to nudge the numbers in their favor.

It’s going to be quite the couple of months for managerial hires. Jurgen Klopp is stepping down at Liverpool. Xavi is doing the same at Barcelona. Thomas Tuchel’s seat at Bayern Munich is approaching volcanic levels of hot. That’s three of the most prestigious, sought-after posts in football. The rumor mill will be spinning at breakneck speed until we have more clarity.

Fortunately for Arsenal, it appears as if our guy is quite happy where he is.