Arsenal are reportedly preparing to offer right-back Hector Bellerin a new five-year contract as they look to "fend off Barcelona and Manchester City," both clubs having been linked with the Spaniard.
According to John Cross in the Mirror, the Gunners have been in contact with Bellerin's representatives with talks set to begin after the international break, and the 21-year-old is in line for a significant wage increase.
Bellerin's current deal does not expire until 2019, but rumours have abounded that he is a key target of Barcelona's having been part of their youth academy until his 2011 move to north London, per Sport (via MailOnline's Ben Nagle).
Per Cross, City also angered Arsenal by enquiring after Bellerin in the summer, a move that was categorically shut down by the Gunners.
Despite his age, Bellerin has already established himself as one of Arsenal's most important players and enjoyed a brilliant campaign as the Gunners came second in the Premier League in 2015-16, per Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe:
He has continued his excellent form in the new term, and his pace and delivery make him a menace on the right flank going forward.
He is also fantastic defensively and made potentially the tackle of the season on a goal-bound Pedro in Arsenal's recent 3-0 win over Chelsea, per the Times' Henry Winter:
Given the relative dearth of top-class right-backs in the Premier League, Bellerin is a standout performer for manager Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and it is no surprise the Gunners are looking to ensure he remains at the Emirates Stadium.
They have lost key players before to Barcelona—see Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henry, Thomas Vermaelen and Alex Song—and must keep hold of Bellerin and the like if they are going to fight for the Premier League title.
It has been 12 years since Arsenal triumphed in the English top flight, but they have started the new campaign brightly and currently lie in third place.
Tying Bellerin—and Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil—to a new contract would be a big boost for Arsenal and allow the focus to remain solely on how the team performs on the pitch.