Joel Lopez has posted a goodbye message on Instagram as the defender leaves Barcelona.

The 16-year-old has been linked with Arsenal for a while now and local reports claimed the Gunners would sign the left-back as a ‘confirmed’ casualty of La Masia.

We first reported on Arsenal’s interest in Lopez back in March. At the time he was just 15 years old and under contract, but now he’s 16 and his deal with Barcelona has come to an end.

Translated it says:

“The day has come to say goodbye to what has been my house these last 7 years.

“Thanks to FCBarcelona, it will be the club that I always carry in my heart for wonderful moments that I have lived with my Companions, Fisios, Coaches, Delegates, Executives ..

“Magnificent people who have made me feel welcome from the first day.

“It was a difficult decision but after contemplating it with my family I made the decision to go and start a new stage as a footballer with great enthusiasm.

“Thanks to all of you who have been there forever. See Barça! 🔵🔴”

Who is he?

Joel Lopez with Spain
Joel Lopez / Instagram

Lopez is a pacey left-back who loves to get forward, leading to comparisons with Hector Bellerin on the opposite side of the field.

Liverpool also showed an interest in the teenager, but it appears Arsenal have managed to edge them out and win the race for the defender.

Barcelona tried to get Lopez to sign a deal with them that would see him remain with the club, but Lopez informed the Catalan giants he would be leaving for Arsenal, according to a report in Sport and RAC1.

Raul Sanllehi’s influence seemingly played a big part in Arsenal sealing the deal, after he joined from Barcelona this year.

Lopez’s age

MOENCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY – APRIL 26: Joel Lopez Salguero of Barcelona controls the ball during the Final of the Santander Cup for U13 teams between FC Barcelona and VfB Stuttgart at Borussia Park Fohlenplatz on April 26, 2015 in Moenchengladbach, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

There has been a lot of confusion online about Lopez’s age.

A number of publications like Goal and Metro report that he’s 15, and specifically make reference to how that means he’ll have to sign schoolboy terms until he turns 16 in March 2019. However, other publications like talkSPORT say he’s already 16.

We decided to contact the player directly. Lopez confirmed that he is, right now, 16.

He will turn 17 on 31 March, 2019.