Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal wanted to move to Athletic Bilbao during the summer transfer window but manager Arsene Wenger blocked his departure after failing to sign a replacement. However, the Basque club could make a fresh attempt to secure the Spanish defender in January 2016 as it is not the first time they have tried to lure him back to La Liga.
Spanish publication AS claims the defender was likely to make the move and even "had an agreement" with the Basque club to return to Spain. But Wenger reportedly scuppered the deal after being unable to find a player to replace Monreal, while also demanding a bigger fee than the £10m ($15m) the Gunners paid to Malaga to secure his services, despite the fact he is 29.
AS suggests Athletic will keep monitoring the situation ahead of the January transfer window as the Arsenal manager still considering signing another left-back – having being linked with Napoli's Faouzi Ghoulam and Portuguese Raphael Guerreiro during the summer.
Monreal moved to north London in January 2013 after impressing Wenger during his time at Malaga. The Spaniard initially struggled to secure regular playing time at the club but has become a key figure for Wenger since last season, while he started in the first four Premier League games of the current campaign ahead of Kieran Gibbs.
Earlier in June, the Spaniard said he was happier than ever in the Premier League and was even looking to renew his contract – which is set to expire in the summer of 2016, although the Gunners have the option to automatically extend it by a further year.
"I have one more year on my contract and I would like to stay at Arsenal. I am very lucky to play for Arsenal, and am very happy to play for Arsenal," Monreal said, as quoted by ESPN FC. "If the boss [Arsene Wenger] wants me to stay, I will do... I only have one more year left on my contract but I am in contact with the club. My main intention is to stay at Arsenal and I hope I can extend my contract."
But reports in Spain during the summer linked him with a return to his homeland. Athletic had openly announced their admiration for the player in recent seasons as with club only able to sign Basque players, their options are restricted.