Ivan Rakitic
Ivan Rakitic is yet to start a game in La Liga since El Clasico Getty

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has played down recent speculation linking Ivan Rakitic with a January move to Manchester City after claiming that "25% of the media reports" are not true. The player's agent Arturo Canales has also backed the refutals insisting there was "nothing" regarding a potential transfer to the Etihad Stadium.

Rakitic, 28, became a key player for Luis Enrique during his first two campaigns at the Nou Camp after being bought by the Spanish boss from Sevilla in the summer of 2014 for around €20m (£17.29, $21m).

However, his future at the club came under some scrutiny in the summer after Barcelona bolstered its midfield with the arrivals of Andre Gomes and former Manchester City academy starlet Denis Suarez.

Mundo Deportivo subsequently reported Manchester United, Juventus, Chelsea and Real Madrid had expressed interest in the midfielder during the summer transfer window and those speculations have resurfaced after Rakitic appeared to have fallen out of favour with Luis Enrique in recent weeks.

The Croatian international is yet to play a single minute in La Liga since the El Clasico against Real Madrid on 3 December while being left out of the squad in the latest 1-1 draw at Villarreal on Sunday night (8 January).

Croatian media outlet Jurtanji added more fuel to the speculations after reporting that Rakitic could make a surprise move to Manchester City during the current transfer window.

This would have explained his absence from the squad but when asked about the player's omission in the press conference Luis Enrique said: No, it has nothing to do with that. It's up to me to decide the squads and the teams. That's my job. Anyway, information that comes out in the media are not reliable the 25% of the times. Whether they come from Croatian, Spain, England or Italy."

Rakitic's agent Arturo Canales has also denied the rumours in an interview with Mundo Deportivo, maintaining that "there is absolutely nothing" with Manchester City.

Meanwhile, Luis Enrique expressed his frustration about the Catalans' draw at Villarreal, but refuses to give up on the La Liga title despite trailing Real Madrid who are five points ahead with one game in hand.

"It is clear that the La Liga title no longer depends on us. We depend on Real Madrid because they are at the top of the table. But there is plenty of the league still to play, we will definitely be fighting for it. We must continue improving and be even stronger to fix this form. The hardest thing in football is to score goals," the Barcelona boss admitted. "The team deserved more, we deserved to win, but football is not always fair.

"We knew about the difficulty of the game against Villarreal, but we deserved to win. I have nothing more to say to my players, we played a great game. The same feelings that I had in Bilbao, even better in fact. We created many chances against the team who has conceded the fewest goals in La Liga, although we were not as accurate as we could have been in the final metres."