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Ivan Rakitic not looking to leave Barcelona despite lack of playing time

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Ivan Rakitic not looking to leave Barcelona despite lack of playing time” was written by Sid Lowe in Madrid, for The Guardian on Wednesday 11th January 2017 16.56 UTC

Ivan Rakitic is set to stay at Barcelona for at least the rest of the season. The Croatia international has been linked with a move to Manchester City but is not looking to leave the Camp Nou in this transfer window.

The midfielder has featured in the Copa del Rey, but he has not played in the league for Barcelona since he was replaced against Real Madrid over a month ago, missing three consecutive games. On Sunday, he was left out of the squad that drew 1-1 at Villarreal and the club’s vice-president, Jordi Mestre, did not take the opportunity to dismiss the stories, although he did say that the club was “delighted with Rakitic” and busy “negotiating his renewal.”

Rakitic has played more minutes than any other midfielder apart from Sergio Busquets this season, but he has not been the automatic first choice he was in the past. André Gomes, Denis Suárez and Rafinha have competed for his place. A niggling ankle injury and a dip in form, plus Luis Enrique’s experimentation in the right-sided midfield role, have led to suggestions that he will depart for City, but it is understood there is no hidden reason for his absence on Sunday. There is no imminent departure expected and it is not related to negotiations over a contract extension. His current deal expires in 2019.

The Barcelona coach, Luis Enrique, said that his absence was “nothing to do” with his future. “Not even 25% of reports are reliable, whether they are from Croatia, Spain or England,” he said.

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