All Guns Blazing: Hector Bellerin’s swift progress at Arsenal is no surprise
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
In our weekly Arsenal fan column, youth blogger Joerge Bird looks at the past and future of the club’s prodigious young rightback.
Some players traipse their way through the academy system without ever having a realistic chance of making the grade at the highest level, but with Hector Bellerin there was always a sense of inevitability that he would progress to the first team.
Indeed, Bellerin’s ascent to the Arsenal senior squad, the latest highlight of which was his opening goal against Liverpool at the weekend, will have been little surprise to those who have watched him develop since he joined the club from Barcelona in the summer of 2011.
Back then, even if he wasn’t the strongest physically and still had some improvements to make defensively, Bellerin’s potential was abundantly clear. Perhaps the only shock of his impressive season is the fact that he has asserted himself in Arsene Wenger’s plans so quickly.
It looked a little bleak for Bellerin last summer when, following the departure of the long-serving Bacary Sagna, Arsenal invested in two new right-back options – Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers.
However, circumstance has been kind to Bellerin, with Debuchy missing large portions of the season through injury, while some impressive performances have seen the La Masia graduate elevated at right-back ahead of Chambers, who has also been used in central defence at times.
Earlier in the campaign, when Bellerin struggled during daunting away trips to Borussia Dortmund and Stoke City, there were indications that the Spaniard, who spent part of last season on loan at Watford, wasn’t quite ready for the step up.
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He isn’t yet the finished article, and Bellerin will readily admit that he needs to work on his clearances and positioning, but the overall level of his performances has been high.
His speed is a useful asset when Arsenal are on the front foot and the youngster, who recently earned his maiden call-up to the Spain Under-21 squad, is capable of delivering precise crosses, unlike his predecessor Sagna.
He can’t afford to rest on his laurels, though. The experienced Debuchy will soon be back to full fitness following a shoulder injury and will be looking to reclaim his place in the team as the season nears its conclusion.
All Bellerin can do is to remain calm and continue to produce commendable performances. If he manages to do that, then Wenger will be faced with a difficult decision regarding whether to reinstate Debuchy.
Follow me @JeorgeBird