It’s a transfer rumour that has gathered pace over the course of the summer, but it now appears that Hector Bellerin is set to stay at Arsenal despite strong interest from Barcelona.
According to an article in the Independent, Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger has told the Catalan giants that his right-back is not for sale, even with a transfer fee of £45 million being mooted.
Bellerin, who is currently in Poland with Spain’s Under-21s for the European Championship, was born in Barcelona and had been a member of the club’s famous academy before moving to north London in 2011.
However, by his own high standards, the 22-year-old struggled to find his best form last season, in a difficult campaign for the club.
Arsenal missed out on qualification for the Champions League for the first time under Wenger, although they did redeem themselves somewhat by winning the FA Cup with a thrilling victory over Chelsea. Wenger announced shortly afterwards that he had signed a two-year extension to his contract.[interaction id=”5949567c91c674963889f7f8"]
In the latter stages of the season, the Gunners manager experimented with three at the back, a formation that has come back into fashion with the success Antonio Conte has enjoyed at the Blues.
Bellerin made three fewer Premier League appearances than he did in the previous campaign, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain impressing as a wing back.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s future is still undecided, but Wenger seems keen to tie down the England man to an improved contract amid reported interest from Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, as reported by Sky Sports.
Should that happen, it could leave Bellerin’s position under serious threat. The Spaniard is among the quickest players in the Premier League, but his defending lacked certainty at times last season.
Oxlade-Chamberlain offers more in an attacking sense and possesses a better final ball, a key attribute for a wing-back. His defensive awareness continues to improve, too.
With some Arsenal supporters still questioning the club’s decision to offer Wenger a new contract, the Frenchman will be reluctant to sell Bellerin, who has grown in stature at the club in recent years.
Selling any player could undermine Wenger’s authority in the eyes of his detractors, at a time when he will be looking to get them back on side.
Financially though, an offer of £45m for a player who cost nothing, would surely be worth seriously considering; particularly as it would enable Wenger to reinvest in areas that are more in need of strengthening.