Arsene Wenger has accused the Spanish media of creating stories in a bid to unsettle Arsenal captain Robin van Persie.
The Holland striker has been in superb form this season, his hat-trick in the 7-1 demolition of Blackburn taking his goal tally to 28 in all competitions.
Just like Cesc Fabregas before him, Van Persie – who has yet to commit to a new, long-term deal – has been heavily linked with a move to Spain.
An article in the Marca newspaper quoted the 28-year-old as claiming it would being “an honour” to be linked with Read Madrid, and he would be “excited at the prospect of playing there”.
Wenger, though, does not take the report at face value as he prepares to take his squad to Sunderland today, where victory would keep them on the coattails of the Barclays Premier League top four.
“Frankly, Marca is as creative as some English newspapers. That means you cannot believe every word that is said in Marca,” the Arsenal manager said.
“They don’t care, Marca, at all. I think they are even far more from real evidence than any English newspapers. They create just stories.”
Wenger maintained there had been no contact from Barcelona or Real Madrid over Van Persie, and if they did, they would be given short shrift.
“What do you think? Barcelona knows that they have a difficult job with us, always,” he said.
Van Persie backed his manager views as he tweeted: “Contrary to reports in Spain I have NEVER spoken to Marca newspaper and never gave any interview. Enjoy your day.”
Arsenal head into what Wenger believes will be a defining period of their campaign, which includes the first leg of their Champions League clash against Milan and an FA Cup fifth-round date at Sunderland, without Jack Wilshere.
The England midfielder has yet to feature this season because of a niggling ankle problem, which initially flared up while on international duty last summer.
Wenger is hopeful of positive prognosis from the latest set of scans.
“I hope that we will get good news from him because that is very important for Arsenal,” he said.
“This is the stage where the [latest] scan will be vital to decide when he will come back.”