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Luis Enrique calls Ivan Rakitic to Man City speculation unreliable

Sid Lowe acknowledges that Real Madrid are certainly favourites to win La Liga, but says it's too early to count Barca out.

Luis Enrique has knocked back claims which emerged from Croatia on Sunday suggesting Ivan Rakitic is on the verge of a move to Manchester City.

The Barcelona midfielder was left out of the squad for Sunday's 1-1 draw with Villarreal and has not featured in the league since being withdrawn with an hour gone in December's Clasico against Real Madrid.

Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez are two of the players who have been picked ahead of the Croatian international, who did start the midweek defeat to Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey.

"Information which comes out in the media is not even 25 percent reliable, whether it's Croatian, Spanish or English [media]," Luis Enrique said in a news conference after the Villarreal game when asked about the reports.

"[Rakitic to Man City rumours] have nothing to do with him not being in the squad. It's my job to pick squads and to name teams."

Ivan Rakitic has been left out the Barca squad in recent weeks, fueling rumours he's leaving the team.

Rakitic was also taken off early in a draw against Real Sociedad at the end of November and has not played in La Liga since the Real Madrid match.

He has featured in two Copa del Rey games, but his absence has given way to rumours he could be on his way to the Premier League, with City in the market for a midfielder following a long-term injury to Ilkay Gundogan.

Asked before Barca's Champions League game at the Etihad Stadium in November if he'd like to play under Pep Guardiola, Rakitic admitted he's a big fan of the City coach.

"I took the No. 4 shirt because of Pep," Rakitic said. "It was a great opportunity and I took it with both hands. He was one of the best in the world.

"My teammates have told me a lot about him, what he was like. I hope he's happy and successful in the future, but not [against Barcelona].

"It would be fantastic to work with him one day and if not I'll invite him for a coffee."

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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