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Arsenal will move to complete deal for 25-year-old, as £42m star looks set to depart

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is reported to have identified Atletico Madrid’s Sime Vrsaljko as a potential replacement for Hector Bellerin, who could be heading back to Barcelona in the summer.

Bellerin, 22, has been a consistent performer for the Gunners at right-back in recent seasons, and this has kept up interest from former club Barcelona, who are in need of a specialist in the position.

Italian outlet Transfermarketweb suggests that the Gunners could lose their promising full-back this summer with Barcelona prepared to match their asking price of around £42m.

Bellerin only inked a new six-and-a-half year deal earlier in the campaign, but this has not diminished interest from Barca, who are yet to fill the void left by Dani Alves last summer.

On top of that, Lionel Messi is said to want Bellerin at Camp Nou as part of an agreement which will see him commit his future beyond June 2018.

Bellerin joined the Gunners from famous La Masia academy in the summer of 2011 and had initially been seen as a right-sided winger with pace to sweep past defenders.

He had therein undergone his transformation into a right-sided full-back with manager Arsene Wenger assigning then-academy coach Steve Bould to improve his defensive skills.

Bellerin has since moved step-to-step in his development at Arsenal, and he is now in the reckoning for the Spain national side while earning a good salary package of around £100,000-a-week.

As per Transfermarketweb, Wenger will move for the services of Vrsaljko in order to compensate for the exit of Bellerin in the summer transfer window.

Vrsaljko, 25, joined Atleti from Italian club Sassuolo last summer and has made 25 appearances across all competitions while playing deputy to first-choice right-back Juanfran.

He currently has a contract with the La Liga side until 2021, but his showing is understood to have attracted interest from the Gunners alongside others including Napoli.

Bellerin has recently suggested that he would stay put with Arsenal next season, but the lure of rejoining a club of Barcelona’s calibre with regular first-team action could be hard to turn down.

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