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Atletico Madrid 'join race for Arsenal's Hector Bellerin'

Atletico Madrid 'join race for Hector Bellerin'
© Reuters
Atletico Madrid reportedly plan to rival Real Betis for the signature of Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin, who is valued at £8.5m by the Gunners.

Atletico Madrid have reportedly taken an interest in signing Hector Bellerin from Arsenal this summer.

The Spain international fell out of favour under Mikel Arteta last year but enjoyed an impressive loan spell back in his homeland with Real Betis in 2021-22.

Bellerin won the Copa del Rey with Manuel Pellegrini's side, who also finished fifth in La Liga, and he amassed a total of five assists in 32 appearances for the Verdiblancos.

The right-back has supposedly decided that his future lies away from Arsenal, and he is expected to seek out a move elsewhere after an 11-year spell in North London.

Bellerin's contract at the Emirates expires in the summer of 2023, and Arsenal are reportedly keen to garner an £8.5m fee for the 27-year-old.

Hector Bellerin warms up for Arsenal on March 6, 2021© Reuters

Bellerin is said to be willing to sacrifice the final year of his Arsenal wages in order to seal a permanent exit, but the Gunners are refusing to cancel his contract, and Betis are reluctant to pay an £8.5m fee.

However, the defender could be offered another potential exit route, as Goal claims that Atletico manager Diego Simeone has added Bellerin to his right-back shortlist.

The Rojiblancos are expected to prioritise a replacement for Kieran Trippier this summer after the England international left the Spanish capital for Newcastle United in January.

The report adds that Atletico have been in touch with Bellerin's representatives, but a permanent return to Betis is his first choice if an agreement can be reached with Arsenal.

Bellerin posted a heartfelt message to Betis following his departure at the end of last season, writing on social media: "Even if I tried I'm finding it very difficult to express what this year has meant to me. There are no words I can find to describe my feelings, so hopefully these pictures will help you all understand.

"Thanks to everyone in the Betis universe for helping me fall in love again with this sport, for all your passion and for making me feel like one of your own from the start.

"I want to thank my teammates for their kindness, humility and love since I stepped into the dressing room. You have made me feel like I've been a part of this way longer than I have.

"Thanks to all the coaching and medical staff, for their trust and their work, but also to everyone behind the scenes at the club whose work goes unnoticed. Thank you to the board and directors for believing in me and helping make a dream of mine come true, a dream that has exceeded all expectations I had when I made my way to the Villamarin.

"THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU and I hope we can meet again. Viva el Betis."

Bellerin arrived at Arsenal from Barcelona's youth academy in the summer of 2011 and has gone to score nine goals and set up 29 more in 238 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions.

The Spaniard has won three FA Cups and three Community Shields with the North London club, who have seen Takehiro Tomiyasu cement his place as Arteta's first-choice right-back in the past 12 months.

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Hector Bellerin warms up for Arsenal on March 6, 2021
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