Juanfran: I've rejected Arsenal twice

The 30-year-old admits he turned down the chance of a move to the Premier League and says Atletico Madrid are stronger despite Diego Costa’s absence hurting the side

Atletico Madrid right-back Juanfran admits he has rejected two offers from Arsenal.

The 30-year-old, along with Serge Aurier, was on Arsenal’s shortlist to replace Bacary Sagna last summer before the club opted to sign Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle United in a €16 million deal.

“I know where I am. Atletico have pushed for me to stay,” Juanfran told Radio Marca. “I rejected two offers from Arsenal. It’s what I feel.”

Atletico currently sit third in La Liga, nine points behind leaders Barcelona, but Juanfran believes the club have improved on their title-winning season despite the impact of losing Diego Costa to Chelsea.

“We’re better than last year,” the defender said.

“We’re finishing the season well. Madrid and Barcelona come to score goals, four for Barca, nine for Madrid with an ease that few teams in Europe can manage, save for Bayern. That we’re there fighting with them is incredible. Having won La Liga last season says a lot about Atletico.

“Diego Costa’s [absence] is noted. He’s such a great player, he gave us a lot. We had our game set up around him. Little by little this year we’re getting there with [Mario] Mandzukic, [Antoine] Griezmann and [Fernando] Torres. It’s all a question of time and work.”

Juanfran has also defended Radamel Falcao’s decision to leave Atletico for Monaco in 2013 and says the striker was not completely motivated by money.

“Falcao had bad luck with the injury,” said Juanfran. “He took a path and it has not gone so well for him.

“Monaco started a nice project. I don’t think that he went there just for the money. He would have professional objectives, not just economic ones.”

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