Hector Bellerin’s Arsenal future could be in doubt after he welcomed interest from Barcelona and admitted he needs to be playing Champions League football.
The Arsenal full-back started his career at Barca, and the Spanish club have long wanted to bring him back.
And though the Gunners are confident of keeping Bellerin this summer, their failure to qualify for Europe’s elite competition could prove a problem.
‘You never know what can happen, but I have a contract and when I finish my holidays after the Euros I will have to go back there,’ Bellerin told Mundo Deportivo.
‘The truth is that every player of a top level wants to play in the Champions League, especially when I’ve been playing in it for two years. As a team, we didn’t achieve qualification and it’s something that we want to correct, but as a player, I repeat: it’s an important competition.
‘It’s a great thing to know about the interest of a club like Barca, the club where I grew up. I don’t know anything at the moment. I’m an Arsenal player and we’ll see what happens.
‘It’s always been very good in London, my family settled there with me, although now, for family reasons, they have had to return to Barcelona. I have a tougher time now because I’m a family person, I depend on them a lot, and it’ll be a new challenge to be without them.
‘I haven’t talked to anyone. I haven’t talked to the club. I know a lot of things are being talked about but as a player, the club haven’t told me anything, there has still not been any contact.
‘A lot can happen this summer.’
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has shown great faith in the young defender, who he brought through into the first team as a teenager.
And with Wenger penning a new two-year deal, Gunners may hope the bond between player and coach could keep the Spaniard out of the clutches of his former club.
But Bellerin insists that the manager doesn’t make a difference to his decision.
‘We didn’t know how it was going to end up,’ he said of the months leading up to Wenger’s new deal. ‘He decided to renew but I’m tied to Arsenal; the fact that he is renewing doesn’t change things much. I’d have been happy to stay with any other coach because I have a contract.
‘It’s been a difficult season, in terms of the team and on a personal level. There has been a lot of pressure as a club because Arsenal is a team of a high level and with a lot of demands.
‘It’s been tough, but you learn a lot from these experiences. It’s something that will help me a lot in the rest of my career.’
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