Hector Bellerin appears to be heading closer to the Arsenal exit door following reports Mikel Arteta is set to leave him out of his starting XI for the opening game of the season.
The Spanish full-back has been heavily linked with a move elsewhere this summer amid suggestions he is keen to cut short his time in north London.
Bellerin’s agent is said to be in discussions with clubs in Italy and Spain regarding a possible transfer, with Inter Milan emerging as the frontrunners to land his signature.
It is thought Arteta is prepared to let the 26-year-old go, providing the club’s valuation of around £17-20million is met.
And it seems the Arsenal boss is already planning for life without Bellerin, as Football London claim Cedric Soares is set to start at right-back for the season opener against Brentford ahead of his teammate.
Soares impressed when selected last season, making 23 appearances in total, though many of those were on the opposite flank.
He has since built on that with two good performances in Arsenal’s first two pre-season friendlies, against Hibernian and Rangers respectively, both of which he started at right-back.
Gunners coaches have been pleased with Soares’ contribution, putting him in line to be involved when their campaign gets underway on August 13.
Bellerin has come on in both fixtures and still has some time to stake his claim, unless he seals a switch elsewhere.
Regardless of who starts at right-back, it is looking increasingly likely there will be a new centre-half next to them, as Arsenal look set to complete the transfer of Brighton’s Ben White.
Both clubs have already agreed a £50million fee, with White poised to seal his move after undergoing a medical on Sunday.
White will be Arteta’s third signing of the summer, following Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga.
Due to the size of the fee, though, Arteta will likely have to offload players if he wants to make any further additions before the transfer window closes.
Granit Xhaka is one star expected to depart, but his proposed move to Roma is currently said to be on hold due to a standoff over the price tag.
Arsenal want £17m for the Swiss international, a figure Roma are yet to get close to in negotiations.
The futures of Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are also uncertain, while Arteta would listen to offers for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Sead Kolasinac.
In his sights are a new goalkeeper to provide competition for Bernd Leno, with Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale top of his shortlist.
Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has also been linked with a switch to the Emirates but his £40m asking price could prove a stumbling block.
Arsenal face Chelsea in their next pre-season fixture at home next Sunday, August 1, before facing Tottenham the following week, prior to their opening clash with Premier League first-timers Brentford.
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