Arsenal FC face a huge setback in the race to sign Balanta

By Sarad Bade Shrestha  |  March 7, 2014

Arsenal have been dealt a huge blow in their hopes of securing the services of Colombian wonderkid Éder Álvarez Balanta after the defender expressed his interest in signing for Spanish giants Barcelona.

As Winner Sports had exclusively revealed, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had lined-up the 21-year old as a replacement for Thomas Vermaelen, with a view of gradually integrating him into the first team to take over from Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker in the future.

Arsenal were lining up a summer move for Balanta

Arsenal were lining up a summer move for Balanta

However, the Gunners’ hopes of signing the young defender has been dealt a setback after the defender claimed that he has his heart set on a move to Barcelona.

Balanta said, “I haven’t received any proposal but of course I would very much like to continue my career in such an important team.

“I wish that they want me. I would have a big dream of playing at Barcelona.”

Arsenal were aware of the fact that Barcelona were also interested in Balanta but were confident in signing the defender ahead of the Catalan giants, with the young man, at the time, also said to be preferring a move to the Emirates.

Following the announcement that Carles Puyol would be leaving Barcelona next season, the Spanish side have targeted Balanta as a long-term replacement

Following the announcement that Carles Puyol would be leaving Barcelona next season, the Spanish side have targeted Balanta as a long-term replacement

A source close to Winner Sports had said, “Although Éder (Balanta) is tempted by Barcelona, he is favouring a move to Arsenal as he feels it would be the right career choice for him, given Wenger’s history of nurturing young talent into world-class players.”

However, following the announcement that Barcelona captain Carles Puyol would be ending his 19-year association with the club, the Blaugrana have prioritized signing a new defender in the summer and as a result, Balanta has been strongly linked with a move to the Nou Camp.

Balanta is one of the most highly rated young defenders in world football due to his impressive performances for Argentine side River Plate in the last couple of seasons. The 21-year old recently made his debut for the Colombian National team in a friendly match against Tunisia recently and looks set to be included in the 23-man squad for the World Cup by manager José Pékerman, where he will be able to showcase his talents to a wider audience.

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