Arsenal have been left fuming with Manchester City after they made an audacious attempt to sign Hector Bellerin, reports The Mirror.
Pep Guardiola is keen to bring a new right-back to the Etihad to replace Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna, both of whom are well over 30. The attack-minded Bellerin, 21, fits the bill perfectly.
Although no official transfer bid has been made, it appears the Citizens have been trying to informally tell Bellerin of their interest in an effort to unsettle him. According to this report, they have succeeded.
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Arsenal had been negotiating a new contract with Bellerin in the hope of extending his stay in north London beyond 2019.
Bellerin only signed a new deal 12 months ago but his rapid progression and subsequent appearance in the Premier League Team of the Season sparked Arsenal officials into action. They want him tied down to a five-year deal and promised him a substantial pay rise at the end of the last campaign.
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However, following interest from City, talks between the club and the player's representatives have begun to stall and Arsene Wenger is blaming his new Premier League rival, Guardiola.
The Gunners have since contacted City’s chief negotiator Txiki Begiristain to express their anger at their sneaky tactics and also issued a firm hands-off warning. They have already rejected an enquiry from Barcelona this summer and have no intention of selling to a direct title rival.
Ties to City
A move to Manchester City appears more viable than many Arsenal fans would care to imagine. Guardiola is a huge fan of his fellow Catalan, who was still in charge at Camp Nou when Bellerin left for north London in 2011.
Adding to that, Begiristain is believed to have a good relationship with Bellerin's agent Albert Botines who also represents two of City's prominent youngsters, Erik Sarmiento and Paolo Fernandes.
Transfers between Manchester City and Arsenal have been as bitter as they have prevalent in recent years. Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Samir Nasri and Sagna have all made the switch up north in search of more money and better opportunities to win trophies.
Mikel Arteta became the latest to make the move this summer, rejecting a coaching role at Arsenal to become Guardiola's right-hand man.
If he was to move, Bellerin would certainly be the most lucrative and controversial deal of them all. A recent study by CIES valued the rapid youngster at £43.1million, the highest price for any defender in the world.
But Arsenal fans would not be interested in the money. They have seen enough of their top players leave in recent years and are instead hoping to see Wenger invest in the squad.