Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has signed a long-term contract extension to end speculation over his future.
The Spain international, 21, had been a target for his former side Barcelona, who saw him as a potential long-term replacement for Dani Alves, while Pep Guardiola was reportedly interested in taking him to Manchester City.
Bellerin distanced himself from a potential move back to Catalunya, however, insisting he would have stayed if he wanted to play for the Blaugrana, having left to join Arsenal in 2011 before breaking into the first-team in 2014-15.
While he says he has been frustrated by the Gunners turning him into a right-back, an agreement over a new contract has seemed imminent, with his agent insisting he was happy in north London.
The new deal for Bellerin comes as a major boost to Arsenal, who are also locked in renewal negotiations with star players Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, both of whom are out of contract in 2018. Furthermore, there remains a great deal of uncertainty around Arsene Wenger’s future, with his deal expiring at the end of the current campaign.
After making his debut for Arsenal, Bellerin had a loan spell in the Championship with Watford before being recalled to the Emirates Stadium. The right-back established then himself in the Gunners’ first-team the following campaign and was named in the PFA Team of the Year last season.
Bellerin was an ever-present in the 2016-17 Premier League, until suffering an ankle injury on international duty with Spain’s Under-21 team earlier this month. He missed Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United and is expected to spend four weeks on the sidelines.