Hector Bellerin has been a player that has proven his ability, passion and desire, a player that is capable of doning the red and white of Arsenal, but has the young Spaniard done enough to secure the right back position ahead of next season?
Bellerin had a good start to his footballing education and is a graduate of Barcelona‘s infamous La Masia academy that has brought through so much Spanish talent in recent years, the pacey full back has not always been a defender and actually started as a winger, much similar to Arsenal‘s Kieran Gibbs.
Bellerin moves to Arsenal
Arsene Wenger has built his reputation on unearthing young talent around the globe, Bellerin swapped sunny Catalonia for “the ol’ smoke” of London in 2011 and has developed a lot quicker than many had hoped.
The 20 year old has made great strides in his development, signing his first professional contract in 2013 was a sign of how much he had developed in the previous two years at the Emirates.
Much has been made of the loan system in the English game, Bellerin is just another example of how it rapidly improves development of a player. Bellerin agreed a loan move to Championship side Watford in 2013-14 where he made 8 appearances for the Hornets, this was vital to the Spaniard’s development and was the first real taste of competitive league action in England.
Bellerin had to learn and learn fast
Fast forward from 2013-14 to September 16th 2014, Arsenal have a tough trip away to Jurgen Klopp‘s Borussia Dortmund in their champions league group, this would be the first real chance for Arsenal fans to judge Bellerin under the microscope.
It was tough going in Dortmund with Wenger‘s side expertly put to the sword, Dortmund cut through them like butter and eventually ran out 2-0 winners, this would be a huge learning curve for Arsenal‘s understudy.
This period saw Wenger opting to thrown in Bellerin in the place of Mathieu Debuchy, who was to have a injury-laden season.
Bellerin shone in the absence of Debuchy and Jenkinson
Arsenal have a much eluded to injury list and last season was no difference, the repetitive problems that Mathieu Debuchy encountered were troublesome, you also had the departure of Carl Jenkinson on loan to West Ham which upset the Arsenal fans and their frustration was evident early on in the campaign.
It understandably took Bellerin time to find his feet in the Arsenal first team, but when he did it was a massive relief to the Emirates faithful. The 20 year old Spaniard put together a run of 20 premier league appearances as well as three further games in the champions league before the inevitable exit in the last 16 courtesy of Dimitar Berbatov and As Monaco.
After an impressive run in the first team it is now difficult to picture the Arsenal starting XI without the right back who has been a permanent fixture and an integral cog in Arsenal‘s progress throughout last season, helping guide Wenger‘s side to a third place finish and retaining an FA Cup is seen as progress to a certain extent.
What beckons next season for Bellerin?
The return of French international Debuchy and England’s under 21 international Jenkinson will give Bellerin much needed competition for the right back spot at Arsenal, that being said it would be a monumental shock if Bellerin is not first choice at the start of the 2014-15 season.
For most part of the season Bellerin has been the driving force of the right hand side of Arsenal‘s attacks and has built an impressive relationship with Aaron Ramsey who has been utilised in a wide right position, and it has worked a dream.
Often when you see an attack minded full back playing behind a winger it creates confusion in the final third but the way that Arsenal have set up since the turn of the year, the balance has been almost perfect. Ramsey moves inside, giving Bellerin the space in which he can create damage and take on the opposing full back, more often than not creating a goal-scoring opportunity for the likes of Alexis Sanchez and co. to convert.
Bellerin can make the right back spot his own for years to come
The obvious comparisons to Chelsea‘s Cesc Fabregas may be merited, Fabregas was “pinched” from Barcelona at a similar age, declared his love for Arsenal and their supporters,
Fabregas is quoted as saying “If one day I leave Arsenal, I will never sign for another English team. Quite sure”,
low and behold he pitches up at Stamford Bridge guiding them to a league title in his first season, the worry is Bellerin gets homesick and uses his Catalan ties to fly back to La Liga.
Bellerin has been quick to dismiss anything remotely like what proceeded the former captain’s departure which will be of some comfort to Arsenal fans.
“My challenge was to come to England and I came here with everything. I came here to stay and to cement my place in the first team, and be here for four more years. stated Bellerin according to the Telegraph last month.
“If I wanted to have played for Barcelona in the future, I would have just stayed there and made my way there. I made that decision when I was young to come over here and I’m not thinking about my future, I’m just thinking about playing for Arsenal and doing well.
“Barcelona tried to keep me. I was about to sign an agreement, we were in talks, when Arsenal told me they were interested in me. We spoke about everything and I told the people at Barcelona I didn’t want to sign a contract, and I wanted to come over here.” added Bellerin.
Arsenal must now push on this summer and build for a much needed title challenge, they finished a massive 12 points behind winners Chelsea and if they are to mount a serious title tilt, it will be important that Arsenal‘s Spanish full back can repeat his impressive performances of 2014-15.
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