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It was reported on Sunday evening that Arsenal, in a bid to ward off interest from Barcelona and Manchester City, are preparing to offer Hector Bellerin a new five-year contract worth £100,000-a-week – double his current pay packet.
Arsene Wenger is obviously determined to keep the talented Spanish right-back, who was named in the PFA’s Team of the Year last season.
However, it was always expected that the Gunners would have their work cut out retaining Bellerin’s services if Barcelona came back for the 21-year-old, who left the Camp Nou – well, La Masia – in search of first-team football back in 2011.
Just like Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal fans fear that the temptation of returning back home could prove too irresistible for Bellerin.
And reports in the Spanish media claim that Luis Enrique, Barça’s head coach, is keen on bringing the player back to the club.
With this in mind, The Times’ latest report on the Bellerin situation is likely to come as a major shock to the Gunners’ faithful – and not in a good way.
According to the reliable Paul Hirst, sources close to Bellerin insist that the defender’s preference is to join Man City.
Because a move to the Etihad Stadium would allow him to be reunited with Pep Guardiola.
It’s understood that Bellerin is keen to work under his revered compatriot, who is currently doing a magnificent job at City after replacing Manuel Pellegrini in the summer.
There’s also a real chance that Bellerin will reject Arsenal’s generous contract offer in order to secure a move to City in the summer.
Wenger is adamant that none of his star players – Bellerin included – will be allowed to leave the Emirates Stadium.
The Spaniard, meanwhile, still has two-and-a-half years left on his contract.
However, there are few things more useless to a football manager than an unhappy player, and Bellerin will be acutely aware that City will require a new first-choice right-back next summer.
Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna have regressed over recent years and will be 32 and 34, respectively, by the time the 2017-18 campaign begins.