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By Nick Wright
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Highly-rated Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin says Bacary Sagna is the perfect mentor.
Former Barcelona trainee Bellerin, 18, has made waves in Arsenal’s youth teams this season and starred for the Under-19s on Monday night as they beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 in their NextGen Series quarter-final.
The Spaniard was a lively and assured presence throughout and laid on the assist for Serge Gnabry’s winning goal as Arsenal set up a last four showdown with Chelsea.
Bellerin has been tipped for a bright future with the Gunners and he says he relishes the chances he gets to train with the first team, especially experienced right-back Sagna.
“I’ve trained with [the first team] a couple of times,” he told London24. “It’s good to get involved with the top players and I enjoy it every time I get the chance.”
Contract rebel Sagna faces an uncertain future at the Emirates but Bellerin, who has yet to make his senior debut for Arsenal, says he has learned a lot by shadowing the France star.
“Sagna is always an example for me because he is a very, very good right-back,” he said.
“He assesses me and helps me with everything. It’s a great experience to train with him.”
The young Gunners’ victory over CSKA Moscow was watched by a crowd of 6,684 at the Emirates Stadium and Bellerin was pleased to give the fans something to cheer on a freezing night in north London.
“The atmosphere was incredible, I really enjoyed the game,” he said.
“There were more people than when I’ve played at the Emirates with the reserves.
“We’re thankful for the people who have come and supported us because it’s hard for them in this cold as well.
“We’re really happy that we’ve made them proud.”
The young Gunners now travel to Lake Como in Italy for the NextGen finals weekend. They face London rivals Chelsea on Friday, while Aston Villa and Sporting Lisbon square off in the other semi-final.
The Gunners knocked out holders Inter Milan in the last 16 and after seeing off CSKA, Bellerin is confident they can go all the way.
“We feel like we can beat any team now, and our team spirit is unbelievable,” he said.
“We’ve got motivation so whoever comes we are going to be 100 per cent.”