Barcelona are reportedly working to poach another talent from the Emirates Stadium following claims Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique approached Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin after Tuesday's UEFA Champions League tie.
According to Spanish daily Sport (h/t the Sun's Sam Morgan), the Blaugrana duo went to congratulate Bellerin, 20, following Arsenal's 2-0 first-leg defeat, as well as "ask about his personal situation."
The news will come as a blow for Gunners fans considering Bellerin has followed the same career path as former Emirates ace Cesc Fabregas, leaving Barca's academy as a youth to join Arsenal in 2011.
The defender recently spoke to the official Arsenal Twitter account and elaborated on the similarities between Barcelona and Arsenal, going into detail about the ease of his transition almost five years ago:
Arsenal FC @Arsenal
What are the main similarities between @Arsenal and Barcelona? @HectorBellerin explains: https://t.co/wP0whzVDEz https://t.co/B6VzDIRjXY2/23/2016, 8:15:42 AM
Bellerin emerged last season as a key member of Arsene Wenger's first team and has since gone on to tie down his place as first-choice right-back, even forcing Mathieu Debuchy to move on loan to Bordeaux.
Morgan pointed out that Iniesta and Pique both played a hand in guiding Fabregas back to his boyhood club in 2011, and history could be about to repeat itself as they set upon another of Wenger's most prized assets.
The prospect of Barcelona making their move to bring Bellerin back to Spain is made all the more intriguing when taking into account the fact Dani Alves' contract at the Camp Nou expires at the end of next season.
It's little wonder Pique and Iniesta took a liking to the Gunners starlet, either, given his superb performance against the defending champions of Europe. South American football writer Rupert Fryer praised his confident display against Brazil talisman Neymar:
Rupert Fryer @Rupert_Fryer
@MiguelDelaney Bellerin too. Seems to have learned from his Douglas Costa experience. Defended Ney 1vs1 much better tonight.2/23/2016, 9:08:51 PM
The Gunners need not worry just yet, though; it hasn't even been a year since Bellerin penned new terms at the Emirates, extending his deal with the club until the summer of 2019.
That being said, the Barcelona native may find it difficult to turn down interest should Luis Enrique's side make their interest known in the future, even considering all the good Arsenal have done for his career.
It's almost been five years since Fabregas departed north London and Bellerin arrived in an exchange that now seems almost too sweetly timed as Barca come lurking once more.
Arsenal have done well to promote the Spain under-21 international within their ranks, but it may yet be hometown club Barca who come to squeeze the best out of his talents in the years to come.
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