By Ralph Chery
La Liga teams have been sparking early summer transfer talks this week with Barcelona looking to sign Arsenal right back Hector Bellerin and Borussia Dortmund’s starlet Ousmane Dembele, while Real Madrid missed out on teenage sensation Kylian Mbappé just when their playmaker James Rodriguez is inching closer to an exit move.
The tabloids reported that Bellerin agreed to join Barca for £50 million on Tuesday night. According to radio station RAC1, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will meet with the Spaniard later this week to try to persuade him to stay in London. Bellerin started his youth career at Camp Nou in 2003 before transferring to Arsenal in 2011.
“It’s a great thing to know about the interest of a club like Barca, the club where I grew up,” the 22-year-old said about the potential move. “I don’t know anything at the moment. I’m an Arsenal player and we’ll see what happens.
The Gunners failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, a competition Bellerin expressed that he wants to compete next season.
“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.”
Barcelona tried to acquire the Spanish full back last summer too.
The Blaugrana side is also hunting for Borussia winger Dembele. Barcelona showed interested in the 20-year-old last summer as well, but he declined their offer to join Dortmund from Rennes. Dembele netted 10 goals in 49 appearances in his debut season with BVB and won the DFB-Pokal Cup.
Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti, who’s also Dembele’s international teammate with France, yearns for the youngster to join him at Camp Nou.
“I know that Barcelona are interested in him,” Umtiti told L’Equipe.
“But all parties involved will have to reach an agreement. He would bring a lot to Barcelona with the quality he possesses and with the things he is capable of. I would welcome him with open arms.” He later added: “He is always welcome at my place, I will happily look after him.”
The Copa del Rey champions are also targeting Brazilian winger Douglas Costa.
Barca’s rivals Real Madrid started their summer transfer with acquisition of 16-year-old Brazilian prodigy Vinicius Junior for £38 million on May 23rd. Junior is nicknamed “Next Neymar”. The young forward is the most expensive player to leave Brazil since Barcelona bought Neymar for £49 million in 2013. Junior is set to move to Madrid in July 2018.
Real Madrid attempted to sign another teenager, Monaco’s forward Mbappe, for £100 million but the 18-year-old decided to stay in France for another season.
The Spanish champions stopped chasing Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, whom they’ve been going after for two years, because United is asking an excessive price of £66 million for him, which would be a record fee for a goalkeeper.
It was reported in Spain that Los Blancos are waiting for next summer to target AC Milan’s 18-year-old keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Madrid is on the verge of signing 19-year-old left back Theo Hernandez for 24 million euro. The club plans to loan Hernandez next season after signing him.
Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Inter Milan are interested in Rodriguez, who’s been eyeing an exit out of the Bernabeu due to lack of playing time. United is the favorite in landing the Columbian.
Mariano Diaz is also looking to transfer out of Madrid to get more playing time elsewhere. Isco who was also dismayed by minimum minutes has decided to remain with the European champions.
Alvaro Morata is another player who’s working on a move out of Madrid. But Real rejected Manchester United’s bid for him, offering £52.4 million when the Spanish champions asked for £78 million, according to Sky Sports.
Elsewhere Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann, who has been on a speculation of a move to Manchester United told Telefoot he will be staying with the club.
“It is a difficult moment for the club,” Griezmann said. It wouldn’t be very nice to leave now. We have spoken with the board and we are going to go again for next season.”
Fernando Torres, on the other hand, is leaving Atletico Madrid for Mexican side Queretaro according to ESPN Mexico.