Hector Bellerin would be “open” to a move to Spanish giants Barcelona at the end of the season if Arsene Wenger leaves the club.
The 21-year-old has emerged as a leading target for Barcelona, with Spanish daily newspaper Mundo Deportivo reporting the club’s interest in the defender.
In Spain, it’s usual for clubs to use media outlets to help turn the head of the player they’re interested in, and Barcelona are willing to spend big to ensure they get their man.
Bellerin signed a new six-year deal with Arsenal in November worth £115,000 a week, but The Guardian reports that the Spanish star only signed the extension in the knowledge that long-standing manager Wenger will remain as the club’s boss beyond the end of the season.
The right-back is said to enjoy playing under Wenger and has strong loyalty to the man who gave him his Premier League chance. Bellerin rejected the chance to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City last year to continue working with the Frenchman.
However, with Wenger’s future at The Emirates in serious doubt, Bellerin and other key players at Arsenal would consider moving on. Both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are coming up to the final year of their contracts and both players are stalling on signing a new deal until the managerial situation is resolved.
Ozil revealed last month that he was happy with life at Arsenal, but won’t commit to a longer deal until Wenger’s fate is known.
“I feel very, very good with Arsenal and have shown my willingness to extend my contract with the club,” he told German magazine Kicker.
“The fans want me to stay. Now it’s down to the club. The club know that I’m here above all because of Arsene Wenger, who brought me here and whose trust in me I enjoy.
“The club also know that I want to have clarity about what the manager is doing.”
While the managerial situation will play a big factor in the deal, Arsenal’s pursuit for Champions League football will also affect the club’s transfer dealings in the summer.
The Gunners currently sit fourth in the league but have lost two of their last six games. Both Liverpool and Manchester United are just behind them in the table and European qualification is anything but certain.
If they fail to secure qualification, it could see the end of Wenger and some of the club’s key players, including Bellerin.
Although Arsenal are keen to keep hold of their man, it is widely reported that Barcelona are the only side that could tempt Bellerin to leave London.