Barcelona star Lionel Messi has blocked the Catalan club from offering starlet Ousmane Dembele as part of a swap deal which would see Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin return to the Camp Nou, according to a report from the notorious Spanish outlet Don Ballon.
The report claims club President Josep Maria Bartomeu considered using Dembele, who Arsenal have been previously linked to, as bait to tempt the Gunners into selling Bellerin.
The report also claims, however, that Lionel Messi does not approve of the proposed switch and has stepped in to block the move and, consequently, the Spain international may instead leave to La Liga rivals Real Madrid, who are seeking competition for Dani Carvajal at right-back.
Born in Barcelona, Bellerin came through the famed La Masia academy before he left to join Arsenal in 2011. Since making his Gunners debut in 2013, the 22-year-old has amassed over 118 appearances for the north London club.
This season, like many Arsenal players, Bellerin, who is currently sidelined due to injury, has been heavily criticised for a string of poor performances. The full-back, who has since hit back at his critics, is reportedly desperate to leave the Emirates and re-join his former club.
Ousmane Dembele started out his professional career with French side Rennes before he was snapped up by Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund in 2016. Following an impressive debut season in Germany, the 20-year-old joined Barcelona in the summer in a deal worth a reported £135m.
Since his move to the Camp Nou, Dembele has struggled with a number of injury setbacks and has made just three La Liga starts for the table-toppers. Nevertheless, having paid such a hefty amount for the France international in the summer, it appears unlikely that Barcelona would be willing to let him leave just a year later without retrieving a large part of the fee.