Hector Bellerin is likely to leave Arsenal this summer in favour of a new challenge.
That’s the verdict of former Gunner Bacary Sagna, who reckons the Spaniard could be on his way out of north London this summer.
Bellerin is the latest Arsenal star to be linked with a move away, with the Spaniard not making the matchday squad for the Gunners’ last league outing away at West Ham.
According to Sagna, a man who made Arsenal’s right-back position his own for seven years, Bellerin could be preparing for his final few months as a Gunner.
Sagna himself eventually departed Arsenal to ply his trade for Premier League rivals Manchester City, he expects Bellerin to follow a similar route – though Manchester is unlikely to be his destination.
Despite being aged just 26, the Spaniard is one of Arsenal’s longest serving first team players – his first appearance coming against West Brom in 2013 when he featured from the sub’s bench, coming on for the man who would go on to be his manager in Mikel Arteta.
Though Bellerin remains likely to play a key part in Arsenal’s latter stages of the season, it has been reported that the full-back has an agreement with boss Arteta to call time on his Arsenal career at the end of this campaign.
French giants Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be interested, while Bellerin could prove to be tempted by the allure of his boyhood club and former side Barcelona, according to Sagna.
Speaking to Goal, Sagna said: “Hector has been there for years. He started playing not long after I left, so he has been in the team for like six years.
“And a bit like I felt, he probably feels that he wants to challenge himself because he has been there for a long time.
“It’s nothing to do with the club, nothing to do with winning cups or whatever. At some point if you want to progress, in my mind you need to go somewhere and challenge yourself and start from zero again. This is how I felt.
“Arsenal was my club and is still my beloved club. But after seven years I had the feeling that because I was part of the house, even when I didn’t deserve to play, I would have played.
“It’s quite tricky as a player. Hector’s still young; he still has five good years to play at the top level and he can do it. So, if he left now, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Bellerin has drawn criticism from some sections of the Arsenal fanbase for his recent performances, and Sagna feels some of it has beenunjust after he returned from a cruciate ligament injury.
Arsenal have already been touted with a potential Bellerin replacement in the form of Inter’s Achraf Hakimi.
The former Real Madrid man has enjoyed a stellar debut campaign in Serie A, but his side’s dire financial situation may force the Italian outfit to sell – and Arsenal could swoop, according to Sagna: “I am sure they are assessing the situation quite well and they already have someone in mind [if Bellerin leaves].
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“Hakimi is never tired, he’s always going forward. He’s so fast.
“I was surprised when I saw him playing for Madrid because for me he was not that good. You could see the potential, but I never expected him to do as well as he is doing now.”
Arsenal will be fairly strapped for cash themselves given the financial impacts of the coronavirus, the Gunners may have to choose between purchasing a new right-back or securing Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard on a permanent basis.