Hector Bellerin’s representatives have reportedly started talks to ensure the right-back leaves Arsenal to return to former club Barcelona this summer.
A report from German Bona of Spanish publication Sport (h/t Metro’s Mark Brus) has revealed the process of negotiating Bellerin’s exit has begun, with the player said to be ready to force a move if needed.
Bellerin appears determined to make a return to the Camp Nou happen, per the reports: “Bellerin is now focusing on getting his dream move to Barcelona after finishing the European Under-21 Championships with Spain and is ready to do what he has to to force his club to let him go.”
The news will naturally come as a blow for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. He has come to rely on Bellerin after promoting him from the club’s academy in 2014.
Still just 22, Bellerin has emerged as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League. While his form suffered a blip last season, with the player heckled by disgruntled fans during a 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace in April, Bellerin is still a key figure for Wenger.
In fact, the Spaniard responded superbly to Wenger’s decision to switch to a 3-4-2-1 formation late last season. Operating as a wing-back, Bellerin was a key part of the 2-1 win over league champions Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final.
Losing him would be a blow, even though Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has produced in the same role, despite his own future being far from certain. Wenger’s squad also lacks other credible full-backs on the right side, with Carl Jenkinson and Mathieu Debuchy both struggling for playing time.
Of course, it’s hardly surprising Barca would want Bellerin back. He is not the first member of their famed La Masia youth academy to move to Arsenal for playing time and become a success. Cesc Fabregas did the same thing in 2003 and was relentlessly pursued by the Blaugrana until he finally returned to the club in 2011.
For his part, Bellerin has said he intends to stay at Arsenal, per Lee Astley of The Sun: “I have a contract over there, I have to report back for pre-season and now is the time for me to just enjoy with my team-mates in Spain for a few days.”
Yet Astley also revealed how Barca won’t pay more than £45 million for a defender “reportedly keen on a return to Spain.”
Frankly, even if a fee this high isn’t worth Arsenal losing one of their brightest young talents. Wenger must hope Bellerin won’t push for a move back to Spain.