Barcelona Transfer News: Cesar Azpilicueta Eyed as Hector Bellerin Alternative

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMay 2, 2017

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - APRIL 08:  Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea shows appreciation to the fans after the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Chelsea at Vitality Stadium on April 8, 2017 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Barcelona will reportedly look to Chelsea star Cesar Azpilicueta or Bayer Leverkusen's Benjamin Henrichs if they fail to land Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin in their search for a new right-back this summer. 

Miki Soria of Catalan newspaper Sport reported Barca are ready to invest heavily to ensure they sign the right player, but luring former academy star Bellerin back to the Camp Nou could be tricky.

Instead, sporting director Robert Fernandez is said to have identified Spain international Azpilicueta as an alternative, along with German Henrichs, 20.

The news comes not long after Sport also reported Barcelona are hopeful of capitalising on the "chaos" at the Emirates Stadium with a renewed move for Bellerin, whose club may not qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season.

Bellerin has developed a reputation as a rising star in recent seasons, but Azpilicueta, 27, has played a senior role in leading Chelsea's push for the Premier League title and has played every minute of their season thus far.

The former Osasuna and Marseille star has taken on a leader's role at Stamford Bridge and cast an emotional figure after Chelsea's 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-final, via Unscriptd:

Barcelona's search for a right-back has come as a result of Dani Alves' departure for Juventus last summer, after which converted midfielder Sergi Roberto filled in as successor, with Aleix Vidal struggling to crack the team's XI before injury ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Henrichs has also been a near-constant for Leverkusen this season and has appeared in all but seven of their matches in all competitions, although Ross Dunbar of DW Sports recently suggested he's not the finished product:

And that's almost certainly what Barca will be seeking this summer, having already endured one season without an established senior figure in the position, which was a shock after Alves' eight-year reign.

If a hunt for Bellerin falls through, Henrichs would be the simpler target to prise away given that Chelsea will be in no rush to sell Azpilicueta and aren't in desperate need of the funds made from any sale.

Nevertheless, Arsenal's speedster is understood to remain the Blaugrana's chief target for the position, meaning any alternative pursuits aren't likely to heat up until they know Bellerin's door is firmly shut.