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.
Ha llegado el día de despedirme de lo que ha sido mi casa estos últimos 7 años. Gracias al FCBarcelona, será el club que siempre lleve en el corazón por momentos maravillosos que he vivido con mis Compañeros, Fisios, Entrenadores, Delegados, Directivos.. Gente magnífica que ha hecho sentirme acogido desde el primer día. Ha sido una decisión difícil pero tras contemplarla junto a mi familia he tomado la decisión de marchar y comenzar una nueva etapa como futbolista con mucha ilusión. Gracias a todos los que habéis estado ahí siempre ¡Visca el Barça!🔵🔴
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?
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.
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.