After Mesut Ozil’s January departure to Fenerbahce, Hector Bellerin now holds the title for the longest-serving Arsenal player (7 years, 5 months, 18 days), however, his love affair with the North London side looks set to come to an end this summer.
As reported by football.london last month, a switch from the English to the French capital is on the cards as PSG are poised to revive their interest in Bellerin this summer.
A strong start to the season was rewarded with a Spanish national team call-up, however, Bellerin’s form has since petered, paving the way for Cedric to snatch the starting spot.
Since his ACL injury in 2019, the Spaniard has failed to recapture the lightning form of his early days in North London and is unsure as to whether he wants to be a part of the club’s long-term plans.
Mikel Arteta has wasted no time at all in lining up Bellerin’s replacement, with Inter Milan’s Achraf Hakimi and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Tariq Lamptey tipped for a switch to The Emirates.
Both candidates fit the profile of young, energetic full-backs, which is seemingly the direction the Arsenal boss is headed in with his rebuild; but with more experience on the big stage, Arteta's decision may be determined by Hakimi's higher price.
Tariq Lamptey has been one of the surprise packages so far this season, with some of his performances worthy of an England call-up.
The 20-year-old full-back only made three senior appearances last year for Chelsea, one of which being a 2-1 win versus Arsenal, but signs of promise warranted the £3 million price tag that Brighton paid for his services.
Despite being sidelined for the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury, Lamptey’s electric performances so far this season have justified the fee that Brighton paid.
Capped once by England U-21's, if it weren’t for Trent Alexander-Arnold and others that supersede him, Lamptey would have a valid claim of at least being in the men's senior team squad for Euro 2021. Arteta recognises his potential, as did Graham Potter a year prior, and he has been shortlisted as a potential replacement for the outgoing Bellerin.
Whilst question marks remain over his defensive ability, his attacking prowess leaves little to be desired. Lamptey has bags of pace and the energy to match it, which makes him the perfect wing-back in a three-at-the-back formation. If he were to join The Gunners this summer, Arteta and his staff would need to work on his defending as it is likely the Spaniard will remain with the four at the back he has adopted this season.
A product of the Real Madrid academy, Achraf Hakimi made his name with Borussia Dortmund where he enjoyed a successful two-year stint with the German side.
Upon his return, the Spanish giants surprisingly opted against keeping the Moroccan, selling him to Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan for £36 million. A few months later and the 22-year-old is, to no shock, flourishing for Inter as they march on towards their first Scudetto since the 2009-10 treble-winning season led by Jose Mourinho.
Like Lamptey, Hakimi is arguably more suited to a wing-back role than full-back, but his quality would undoubtedly see him through in the Premier League.
London rivals, Chelsea, are also reportedly interested in the Moroccan international. However, Inter are reluctant to sell at all, considering the marvelous impact he has had so far.
Arteta and Edu Gaspar are said to be long-term admirers of Hakimi and will push for a deal this coming window as the Arsenal manager has made it clear that he is keen to strengthen in the full-back departments.
Hakimi can operate on both the left and right-hand side of defence, which makes him the perfect signing if Sead Kolasinac is to join Bellerin in leaving on permanent deals at the end of the season.