Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has emphasised his loyalty to Arsene Wenger amid “flattering” transfer links to former club Barcelona and Manchester City.
The 22-year-old signed a new six-year deal with Arsenal in November, but that may have been with the understanding that Wenger would remain as manager beyond the end of the season — something that is currently far from certain.
Wenger said last week he has reached a decision on whether he will stay at the Premier League club beyond this season, and will announce it publicly “very soon.”
And Bellerin confirmed his loyalty toward Arsenal and admitted that Wenger’s could be a determining factor for him as well.
“The loyalty one has to a person is worth more than money, it is something that is very important for me. And him being there carries a lot of weight for me,” he told Mundo Deportivo from Spain training camp.
There has been fresh speculation of a possible summer swoop by Barcelona for Bellerin, despite the fact the 22-year-old signed a new long-term contract with the Gunners in November.
Bellerin admits he finds it “special” to be on Barca’s radar and has not ruled out one day returning to his home-town club, despite once vowing he would not.
“Yes, any player would have interest in Barcelona. They are the best club in the world and that is something really special,” he said. “The fact that I grew up in Barcelona’s academy also gives the idea even more a bit of being special. Now, though, I am focused on the matches remaining this season, not on what might come later. I am very flattered.”
Bellerin said he was eager to leave the Catalan club for Arsenal in 2011.
“When I left Barca my idea was that I would never return because my transfer [to Arsenal in 2011] was a bit complicated,” he said. “But like others who say that they left with the idea of returning, I went to have the adventure of England, to try to be a better football player and to not return.
“But no one knows what the future holds and you can never close any doors.”
Last week, Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez admitted that the door was open for negotations to bring Bellerin back.
“It is a position that we are evaluating, there are many options and we will decide what we think is the best,” he said. “If the market helps us, we will always try to improve, why not?”
Bellerin admitted that he has heard of the interest from Manchester City, although he denied that he would prefer to sign for City before Barcelona.
“I know that City is interested in me. It is flattering that a coach such as Guardiola would consider me. It is a sign that things are going well for me,” he said.
Last week, Wenger dismissed the reports linking Bellerin back to Barcelona.
“He has an unbelievable number of years to go. It’s very difficult to take these things seriously,” Wenger said during a news conference.