Reports claim Arsenal are interested in Lille’s Turkey international defender Zeki Celik as a possible long-term replacement for Hector Bellerin.
Celik, 24, has been turning heads with his displays for Les Dogues and helped them pip Paris Saint-German to the French title. The Gunners have taken note and the right-back is now said to be on their radar. But the north Londoners are not the only club holding an interest.
Manchester United, Tottenham and Serie A champions Inter Milan have also been linked. It is not known if Lille would be willing to sell but they are said to value the player at round €15million (£13m).
That is certainly a price that would not scare off the Premier League clubs. However that might rise if he impresses during this summer’s European Championship.
Arsenal’s interest stems from the fact that Bellerin’s wage demands may preclude him from signing a new deal at the Emirates. The Spain international has two years of his deal left to run and the Gunners could cash in now.
The Evening Standard are reporting that the Spaniard is now ‘expected’ to leave, forcing Mikel Arteta to look for alternatives. Celik joined Lille from Turkish club Istanbulspor back in 2018 and has become a consistent performer at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
He has made 86 Ligue 1 appearances across three seasons, starting 28 times in 2020-21 and scoring three goals. He is certainly a player in demand and it remains to be seen if Lille are willing to let him go.
Everton were linked during the January transfer window while Tottenham held an interest last summer. Celik is said to be keen to try his luck in English football and he is not short of suitors.
Bellerin ‘perfect’ fit for La Liga club
Bellerin has been at the Emirates since 2011, coming up through the youth ranks before making his senior debut. The Barcelona-born ace has made 239 appearances in all competitions, featuring 25 times in the league in the season just finished.
But rumours of a possible exit have been doing the rounds for some time. Real Betis have been strongly linked.
But general manager Federico Martinez Feria, while admitting they like the full-back, denied a deal is imminent.
“We are not making, and I say this emphatically, an effort to sign the player,” he said last week. “However, he is among the positions we are looking for and is a player of a perfect fit for us.
“He could be a candidate but we are not talking to Arsenal at the moment about Bellerin.”