Arsenal are preparing for yet another transfer war with Barcelona, as the Spanish giants attempt to lure former Masia youngster, Hector Bellerin back to the Nou Camp as a replacement for the imminently departing Dani Alves.
Right-back Bellerin left Barcelona as a 16-year-old to join Arsenal in the summer of 2011, and after a series of injuries to Arsenal’s first choice full-back Mathieu Debuchy, the Spaniard quickly established himself as a firm fan favourite with a series of impressive displays.
There have been suggestions from Spain that Barcelona inserted a buy-back option into the original deal that took Bellerin to Arsenal, although neither club has been willing to confirm its existence.
Bellerin only recent signed a new four-year deal at Arsenal last summer and remains happy at the club. Speaking last week, the youngster told a Spanish newspaper:
“England is my home now. I’ve lived there for many years; my family and my girlfriend are there. I don’t see myself anywhere other than at Arsenal.”
However, one report in Spain this morning suggested Barca had attempted to make contact with Bellerin’s representatives as recently as a month ago though Arsenal would obviously be unwilling to sell one of their brightest young prospects.
Barcelona have been forced to find a replacement full-back with Dani Alves looking almost certain to join Juventus on a three-year contract, ending a remarkable eight-year spell at Barcelona.
Alves currently has one year remaining on his current Camp Nou contract but is expected to join Juventus on a free transfer in the next few days.
The Brazilian will leave the club as Luis Enrique’s first choice, after appearing to have been tempted by a wage increase and the prospect of a three-year contract with the Serie A champions.
Barcelona have Aleix Vidal as a ready-made right-back replacement, but the £13million signing from Sevilla is yet to impress Luis Enrique, failing to establish himself in the matchday squad.
Naturally, this makes the prospect of signing Bellerin all the more appealing. Barca initially allowed the Spaniard to leave the club after eight years in their youth set-up but seem hopeful of luring him back, emulating the manner in which Cesc Fabregas returned to Catalonia in 2011.
Arsene Wenger will need to fight hard to retain Arsenal’s adopted defensive talent, if indeed a buy-back clause exists. Arsenal have established a reputation in recent years as a ‘selling club’, particularly to the likes of Barcelona and Manchester City, but Arsenal fans would be particularly upset to see the youngster swept home for reasons beyond his control.