Arsenal news: ‘Extremely happy’ Mikel Arteta plays down shock Barcelona links

Staying put: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has distanced himself from the Barcelona job  (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Staying put: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has distanced himself from the Barcelona job (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta has insisted he is “extremely happy” at Arsenal after being linked with the Barcelona job.

Arteta came through the ranks at Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy before joining French side Paris Saint-Germain.

The Spaniard, as a result, has close ties with Barca and Spanish newspaper Sport has linked him with a sensational return there one day.

But asked about those reports, Arteta said: “What I can say, I’m extremely happy, I’m proud to be where I am.

“I think Barcelona now they are in a really good path, I think they have a phenomenal coach, a coach that has been an absolute legend in that club and has lifted the whole place and you have to be very respectful of that.”

Arteta has impressed during his time at Arsenal and the team are currently sat top of the Premier League.

The Spaniard is having to juggle the World Cup coming up this month and he has admitted it is a balancing act as he tries to protect players.

“Every day I feel responsibility to protect them, to guide them, to get the best out of them but we are playing for Arsenal at the moment and that’s what they have to focus on,” said Arteta.

“When they played for England or their national teams, they have to focus on the national team and on England, and this is what we have too.”

No more was that balancing act evident than on Sunday, when Arsenal played Nottingham Forest, and Bukayo Saka suffered a kick to his ankle.

Arteta was seen deep in conversation with the medical team, before Saka was eventually hooked.

“The conversation was easy - ‘’he’s in, or he’s out’ - but in between we can’t have a player (injured) for five, six, seven minutes,” said Arteta.

“So you are on the pitch or you are outside the pitch, if you’re going to be outside the pitch then sit on the floor and get off.

“But we have to make a decision and that’s it because we cannot delay a situation like that because every minute that a player is not 100 per-cent to play is costing the team and we need to make those decisions quickly.

“We’re using obviously our brains and our common sense, but obviously he had a kick. He was uncomfortable with it, we made the decision to get him off and now he’s feeling fine.”