Barcelona are reportedly considering a move to sign Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin.
Bellerin has been earmarked for a transfer this summer after spending last season out on loan with Real Betis. The 27-year-old is happy to move on from the north London club and favours a move back to Seville, where he helped Betis win the Copa del Rey.
However, Betis’ financial situation means they cannot afford to pay Arsenal ’s asking price for Bellerin, or fit his wages into La Liga’s strict financial fair play rules. While Udinese have thrown their hat into the ring, the possibility of a move back to Barcelona, where Bellerin began his career before moving to Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2011, has also emerged.
Sport says that strengthening the right-back position is one of manager Xavi Hernandez’s priorities before the summer transfer window closes and, after missing out on top target Cesar Azpilicueta, he is eyeing up Villarreal’s Juan Foyth and Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Meunier. However, both players would come with price tags Barca simply cannot afford.
Foyth has a €42million (£35m) release clause, while Meunier is priced at around €15m (£12m). That’s where Bellerin comes into the picture as ‘Plan B’. The Spaniard is in the last year of his Gunners contract and already knows the Barca style of play, having come through La Masia academy.
He is being considered and, with the clock ticking towards the transfer deadline on September 1, he is looking more and more attractive. Barca are trying to offload Sergino Dest to Manchester United, whose manager Erik ten Hag coached him at Ajax, and the sale will free up space for Bellerin.
Hector Bellerin wants to leave Arsenal this summer ( Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Getty Images)
Arsenal have been holding out for a decent transfer fee for Bellerin. But having managed to offload Pablo Mari, Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, Nuno Tavares, Alex Runarsson and Konstantinos Mavropanos on loan or permanent deals this summer they could ‘give in’ to Bellerin’s desire, compromise and sanction a move to Spain.
Bellerin’s agent was recently in London to try and negotiate a way out of the club before the window closes. The Spanish defender was thought to be keen to terminate his contract early in order to facilitate a move elsewhere – a method Arsenal have previously admitted they would consider.
Arsenal’s technical director Edu recently explained that he would consider terminating contracts. “I know it hurts, I know it’s strange when I go to the board and say, 'Sometimes it’s better to pay a player to leave, than maintain them',” he told The Athletic. “But I consider it an investment. “Sometimes people say, 'It’s expensive'. I say, 'No, it’s investment'. But someone will pay if you sell? No, guys – if the player is above 26, 27 and not performing, big salary, no chance.”
Bellerin did go on Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the USA and has been training with the squad. However, he has not been involved in either of the matchday squads for the wins over Crystal Palace and Leicester City, with Ben White fielded out of position at right-back in both fixtures.