Arsenal waved good bye to Hector Bellerin on transfer deadline day after 11 years at the club, but Gunners officials made sure they inserted a key clause in the deal.
Bellerin, who started his career with Barcelona, had been linked with a return for a number of years. But it was still a surprise that a transfer finally went through late on Thursday. The 27-year-old returned to his hometown club on a free transfer.
There was interest in Italy. According to Sky Italia, Udinese were keen on Bellerin.
Bellerin did have one-year remaining on his Arsenal deal and the club were entitled to as fee for the right-back. But the two parties agreed to terminate his contract and allow him to move back to Catalonia on a free transfer.
The trade off from Barcelona’s point of view was that Arsenal inserted a sell-on clause in thew deal. The Gunners retain a 25% sell on clause should Bellerin move on from the Camp Nou, according to football.london.
It’s a move that suits all parties with Bellerin way out of the first-team picture under Mikel Arteta.
Ben White has been the man to fill the right-back berth so far this season after playing at centre-back last term. Arteta also has Takehiro Tomiyasu and Cedric Soares as cover.
Bellerin spent last season on loan at Real Betis. But returned in the summer and has not been able to force his way into Arteta’s squad.
Arteta offers heartfelt farewell
Bellerin did feature in pre-season. But his last competitive appearance for Arsenal was in May 2021, when he appeared as a sub in the win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. He has made his debut in the League Cup in September 2013.
He also spent a period on loan in the Championship with Watford and made 239 appearances for the Gunners.
Arteta wished the best for his fellow countryman, and told the club’s website: “We today say goodbye to Hector and we thank him so much for his loyalty and commitment to Arsenal Football Club.
“During his 11 years with Arsenal, Hector won three FA Cups and made nearly 250 appearances. Such a huge contribution to the club. I’m privileged to have played in the same squad as Hector for three seasons, wearing the Arsenal shirt and sharing many great moments on and off the football pitch together.
“We thank you Hector and wish you and your family all the best for your return to Barcelona.”