Cesc Fabregas has quashed speculation he's unhappy at Barcelona, despite admitting his lack of regular first-team action means he is going through a hard time.
The Spanish midfielder moved to Camp Nou at the beginning of last season, and although he started his second stint at the club brightly, Fabregas has since suffered a dip in form.
Despite receiving criticism for some of his recent displays, the former Arsenal captain is confident he will soon be back to his best, and is willing to bide his time for an opportunity to impress in the side.
"I've been playing in the top flight for nine years now and it isn't the first or second time that I've had a spell like this," he told Marca. "I'm playing with a smile on my face and I still believe in my abilities.
"I've been feeling good and I'm happy. And the team's been winning too. I care more about the team winning than what people say about me. Scoring is important, but I've got more important tasks than that."
After Saturday's 2-0 victory over Granada, Barca extended their advantage over Real Madrid to 11 points, with five wins from their first five games in La Liga this term.
Looking ahead to the first Clasico set to take place on October 7, Fabregas hinted that despite the poor start of Jose Mourinho's side, Los Blancos will still be a big threat to their title aspirations this term.
"It's a decent advantage we want to keep it for as long as possible," he continued. "It's difficult because we all know that the Spanish league is very competitive.
"We're hosting Madrid in a few weeks and it'll be a tough game, but we believe in our style.
"They've had a difficult time, but during a full league season there are always good times too, key moments, because it isn't possible to be at 100 per cent for the full nine months of competition.
"But it's still Madrid, we know it and whether they're on form or not we need to keep being ourselves."