According to El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have set their sights on Hector Bellerin as a replacement for Dani Alves.
The Brazilian international is leaving the Camp Nou and heading to Serie A, having signed for Juventus in what will likely be his last lucrative contract.
According to the Catalan press, Bellerin’s ties to Barcelona make him the ideal replacement.
“The first on the list is Hector Bellerin, 21 years of age, now at Arsenal but who has Barca DNA from when he was little.
“One month ago, Roberto Fernandez [technical secretary at Barcelona] called the defender. Sources close to the play say that he asked Francisco Javier Garcia Pimienta, the last coach who had Bellerin at the club, to initiate contact.”
The report mentions Sevilla’s Brazilian right back Mariano, Joa Cancelo of Valencia, and Juventus’ Juan Cuadrado – even though he’s not exactly a defender – as possible targets, as well.
Bellerin recently denied any interest in leaving London, stating that England is his home.
“I’ve been there many years now, my family is there, I’m living with my girlfriend. I’m very happy there, and I just don’t see myself anywhere else but Arsenal.”
Bellerin enjoyed a breakout season at the club a year and a half ago. With a series of injuries hitting the Arsenal back four, the young Spaniard took a hold of the right back spot and hasn’t let go. He was the only Arsenal player named in this season’s PFA Team of the Year, and is one of the club’s most exciting young talents. Although he has yet to make a senior appearance for Spain, he was named in his country’s pre-Euro 2016 squad, making him available for a series of friendlies before the final team is announced.
Bellerin moved to Arsenal from Barcelona as a 16-year old in 2011. He had been a part of the club’s famed La Masia youth academy since 2003. He moved to London with fellow Barca academy product and friend, Jon Toral, who enjoyed a stellar season on loan with Birmingham this past year. Although not directly a part of the agreement, Bellerin and Toral’s transfers were in part facilitated by Cesc Fabregas’ move from Arsenal to Barcelona that summer.
Considering Bellerin’s ties to Barcelona, it was inevitable that the player would be linked to a move back. Barcelona, and Spanish press, have used the “DNA” argument in the past, especially with Fabregas, but looking at Bellerin’s comments, it’s unclear if the feeling is reciprocated. It does appear that Arsenal is his home.