Atletico Madrid have reportedly intensified their pursuit of Hector Bellerin, who is set to leave Arsenal on a permanent deal this summer.

According to El Desmarque, Atletico Madrid have taken the next step in their pursuit of Spanish full-back Hector Bellerin, having initiated contact with Arsenal to discuss the feasibility of a potential summer swoop.

The Rojiblancos have already held talks with the 27-year-old’s representatives and have now backed it up by doing the same with his parent club, with negotiations now thought to be in the works, although they are still in the early stages. The report adds that Villarreal have also joined Real Betis and Atletico Madrid in the chase for Bellerin, making direct contact with his entourage, although a move to El Madrigal does not interest the Arsenal defender.

After falling down the pecking order at the Emirates, Bellerin move to La Liga for a season-long loan with Real Betis. The temporary stint was hugely fruitful for the Arsenal right-back as he has produced a string of stellar performances to revitalise his flailing footballing career.

The Spaniard notched up five assists in 32 appearances across all competitions, helping Los Verdiblancos reach the knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League while securing their first Copa del Rey title since 2005 and an impressive fifth-place finish in La Liga. He forged an intimate relationship with the Betis faithful and was reduced to tears when he waved farewell to the club’s fans after their final home game of the campaign.

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Bellerin’s loan has now ended, and he will return to Arsenal, where he still has a year left on his deal. He has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to call time on his eleven-year stint with the Gunners and is willing to waive the rest of his contract as his heart is set on a return to Andalusia.

Betis are reportedly his preferred destination, but Arsenal have refused to terminate his contract as they hold out for a fee to make a profit on their academy graduate. However, Betis are currently in financial disarray will be unable to pay the Gunners a significant fee for the Spaniard.

Bellerin, for his part, is willing to go any length to make the Betis move a possibility and is ready to give up a large portion of his €6.6 million gross salary. While a romantic return remains his first option, the Spanish international has also not closed the doors to outside interest, with Atletico Madrid presenting a lucrative route out of north London, both in sporting and financial terms.

The 27-year-old Arsenal defender is on El Cholo’s shortlist of possible right-back acquisitions, as Kieran Trippier still needs replacing following his January move to Newcastle United. Atletico Madrid have also been linked to Tottenham’s Emerson Royal recently.

It is reported that Bellerin himself is aware of Atletico Madrid’s interest and views it as a good option for his career if talks between Arsenal and Betis collapse since it would give him the chance to compete in the UEFA Champions League again. That said, Atleti are in a financial hole of their own and must make sales worth €40 million before going out to buy players from the market.

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