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Arsenal must end season on a high

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Barca's Cruyff denies holding talks with Mourinho

Johann Cruyff has denied holding talks with Jose Mourinho about the possibility of the former Chelsea coach taking charge of Barcelona at the end of the season.

Cruyff, widely regarded as one of the most influential figures at the Nou Camp in his role as advisor to president Joan Laporta, rubbished reports he had met with Mourinho with a view to him succeeding Frank Rijkaard.

Dutchman Cruyff wrote in his column in Spanish daily El Periodico that Barca's current struggles - they currently lie six points adrift of leaders Real Madrid amid claims of dressing-room unrest - were no excuse for starting 'absolutely false rumours' which he considered 'hurtful to Rijkaard both as a manager and as a person'.

He said: 'Recognising that Madrid (have an advantage) shouldn't serve to feed completely false rumours like the one that I gave the okay to Mourinho's arrival.'

He went on to insist the club were not considering bringing the Portuguese to Barcelona, claiming 'no-one has even asked me anything about Mourinho'.

Cruyff - who as coach led Barcelona to their first European Cup in 1992 - added words of support for Rijkaard, insisting 'we have a manager until 2009' and that 'Rijkaard is my friend and you don't do things behind a friend's back'.