Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin is reportedly the subject of interest from Juventus again, with the Serie A side keen to procure his signature if his £50m asking price is lowered.
The 23-year-old has struggled for consistency this season, but he remains part of the Gunners’ long-term plans and seems keen to stay at the Emirates.
Despite this, the rumours aren’t going away and reports of a low transfer budget for Arsene Wenger’s successor raises suggestions that Arsenal could generate more spending money through the sales of their top assets.
Arsenal have no strength in depth at right-back
The biggest problem Arsenal would have if they sold Bellerin would be filling his shoes. The Gunners have no natural cover in his position which is why the Spanish u21 international has played 47 games in all competitions this season.
Calum Chambers can operate on the right in a makeshift capacity, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson have been given the odd appearance as a right-sided wing-back, but Arsenal desperately need to strengthen this area not weaken it.
Without Bellerin, the Gunners would have struggled even more than they did this season, as they have no obvious replacement waiting in the wings – Mathieu Debuchy couldn’t get a game in the Premier League and was eventually released in January to join AS Saint-Etienne.
If anything, some cover at right-back will be on the agenda, rather than Arsenal considering selling their only natural option. Bellerin played so many games in 2017/18 and needed somebody to provide competition as well as give his legs a break.
Bellerin’s deal doesn’t expire until 2023
The 23-year-old signed a six-and-a-half-year deal with Arsenal in 2016 which benefits the Gunners on two levels – it’s a clear commitment from the player to the club despite any speculation over his future and means Arsenal aren’t in any rush to cash in.
Bellerin’s contract doesn’t expire until 2023, so Arsenal have no reason to consider a sale before then. Regardless if he gets his head turned by a European giant, Bellerin cannot leave Arsenal before 2023 without the club’s permission.
Arsenal clearly believe he has the potential to become one of the best right-backs in Europe, hence the six-year investment, so letting such a talent leave 18 months after signing the long-term deal would be a strange move.
No sense in selling an academy graduate not yet in his prime
Bellerin’s contract is set to expire when he’s 28, the age when most players hit the peak of their form, so he should continue improving in the next five years. The defender was named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2016, proving he can hit the grand heights despite his young age.
He’s a fan favourite, having spent seven years at Arsenal since moving from Barcelona in 2011, making 162 appearances in all competitions and has been moulded in the club’s philosophy. Bellerin hasn’t been at his best this season, but supporters have seen how good he can be, so why would Arsenal give up on him at age 23?
Juventus reportedly won’t pay £50m to sign him, but the Gunners shouldn’t entertain anything less. Bellerin is worth a lot more to Arsenal as a homegrown talent and model professional, so letting him go would be a stupid decision.