Bellerin prefers City despite fat offer

Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin is said to be keen on joining Manchester City. He would be reunited with Pep Guardiola, who coached Barcelona during Bellerin's time at the famous La Masia youth set-up.
Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin is said to be keen on joining Manchester City. He would be reunited with Pep Guardiola, who coached Barcelona during Bellerin's time at the famous La Masia youth set-up.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Hector Bellerin could reject an offer to stay at Arsenal and leave for Manchester City at the end of the season.

The Gunners have offered their 21-year-old Spain right-back a five-year deal that would almost double his pay packet of £50,000 (S$87,400) a week.

Barcelona, who lost Bellerin to Arsenal on a free transfer in 2011, are also interested in taking the Catalan back to the Nou Camp. Vice-president Jordi Mestre said: "He's a great player, there's no doubt."

However, sources close to the player insist that Bellerin's preference is to join City, where he would be reunited with Pep Guardiola.

The pair crossed paths during Bellerin's time at Barcelona's fabled La Masia youth set-up and the defender is understood to be keen to work under his compatriot, who coached the Spanish champions from 2008 to 2012.

City's hierarchy have agreed that the full-back position is a concern.

Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy are all admired for their long service to the club, but the trio will be aged 32, 34 and 32 respectively by the start of next season.

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    Arsenal have offered Hector Bellerin a new contract that will double the Spaniard's existing £50,000 salary.

Aleksandar Kolarov, the left-back who has played at centre-half for much of the season, turns 31 next month.

Prising the defender from Arsenal will not be easy, however.

Bellerin has 21/2 years left on his deal and Arsene Wenger is adamant that none of his stars will be allowed to leave.

Wenger lost Clichy, Sagna, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure to City between 2009 and 2014, but Arsenal are in a stronger financial position now.

City forward Raheem Sterling is expected to be fit for action after the international break, despite pulling out of the England squad with a slight calf strain that he picked up in the 0-2 loss away to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

That is good news for Guardiola as Kevin de Bruyne, the Belgium playmaker, is facing a race against time to be fit for the Champions League clash away to Barcelona on Oct 19. He suffered a hamstring injury in the 3-1 victory over Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium 11 days ago.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2016, with the headline 'Bellerin prefers City despite fat offer'. Print Edition | Subscribe