Arsenal are ready to offer Hector Bellerin an improved contract after an unexpected breakthrough into the first-team, reports The Telegraph.
Only an injury crisis forced Arsene Wenger to hand the young Spaniard a starting spot, but a series of impressive displays eventually saw him become the club's first choice right-back.
The 20-year-old originally signed professional terms in 2013 but the Gunners are now ready to offer him a long-term deal that will keep him at the Emirates Stadium until at least 2019.
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Bellerin has trod a path originally cut by Cesc Fabregas after swapping Barcelona's La Masia academy for Arsenal's Hale End.
He arrived in north London in 2011, the same summer that Fabregas returned to the Nou Camp. Now a first-team regular and a dark horse for Spain's Euro 2016 squad, there are already quiet suggestions of Barcelona returning to haunt Arsenal in the transfer market once again.
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"It was my first season playing for the first team and obviously I am not thinking about going anywhere else"
Born and raised in Catalonia, the chance to return home was something Fabregas could never resist, but Bellerin has already put to bed fears of history repeating itself. He was asked about a potential move to Barcelona and dismissed it out of hand.
He told reporters: “If I had wanted to play there I would have stayed there in the first place. The fact that I came to Arsenal means that I want to play here.
"For me, the job has just started. It was my first season playing for the first team and obviously I am not thinking about going anywhere else. I just want to cement my place in the first team, get more games and hopefully stay a long time.”
"I know the boss is a man who likes to bring up young players. I remember exactly the chat and that was the moment I decided to come"
Signing for Arsenal
Bellerin arrived as a 16-year-old attacking-winger, leaving his family and friends back in Catalunya to accept what he believed to be the best chance of him becoming an established footballer.
Unsurprisingly, it was the talismanic leader, Wenger, who eventually convinced Bellerin to leave what is widely considered to be the world's best football academy.
“I had a really good experience at Barcelona but, at 16, the train came,” he said. “It was a hard decision but, as soon as the moment Arsenal said they wanted me and I chatted to the boss, saw the training ground, saw where I was going to live, I had it in my mind I was going to come.
“I didn’t doubt it. It was hard for the fact I had to leave my family and friends, my country, but I look back now. I’m really happy that I did it. I know the boss is a man who likes to bring up young players. I remember exactly the chat and that was the moment I decided to come.
Bellerin provided excellent cover for Mathieu Debuchy last season with the France international suffering two unrelated, yet serious, injuries in his debut season for the Gunners.
However, Debuchy, 29, is returning to full fitness and will be pushing Bellerin all the way to earn his first-team spot back.
Who do you think should be Arsenal's first-choice right-back?
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