Athletic Bilbao’s Ernesto Valverde not paying attention to Arsenal speculation

Ernesto Valverde has been linked with taking over at Arsenal.

Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde insists he is focused only on the present, amid speculation linking him with the Arsenal job.

Marca reported this week that Arsenal are considering Valverde as a replacement for Arsene Wenger should he leave the club at the end of the season when his contract his due to expire.

When asked about speculation that Arsenal are interested in him, Valverde told a news conference: “I don’t know where these [reports] come from. Of course, I’ve coached abroad, I know what it entails. For me it was an enriching experience and it was something extraordinary. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future.”

Valverde enjoyed two successful spells at Olympiakos, leading the club to three Greek Super League titles and two Greek Football Cups.

Valverde, who returned to guide Athletic for a second time in 2013, has not signed a new contract with the Basque outfit, with his current deal ending this summer.

He is also a reported candidate to succeed Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, who has decided to leave the Camp Nou in the summer. Valverde, a former Athletic forward, also played for Barca from 1988 until 1990.

However, Valverde, who has also managed Espanyol, Villarreal and Valencia, remained tight-lipped about his future.

“I’m asked the same question week after week and it seems as though I’m struggling to make up my mind, but there is nothing to decide right now,” Valverde said. “It’s the time to compete and when the times comes to announce something, which only happens once we analyse the season, I will do that. My focus right now is on the day-to-day and we will see what happens in the future.”

Valverde guided Athletic to a fourth-place finish in La Liga in the 2013-14 campaign and a spot in the Champions League for the first time in 16 years.

In 2015, Valverde led Athletic to their first major trophy in over three decades with a 5-1 aggregate victory over Barcelona in the…

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