Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin has revealed the reason behind his move away from Barcelona in 2011, saying he left Camp Nou to give himself the best possible chance of securing regular football.
The Gunners defender's controversial decision to swap the Catalan giants for the Emirates Stadium has been vindicated after the Spaniard successfully made a senior breakthrough in Arsene Wenger's line-up this season.
Bellerin spent seven years at Barca's world renowned La Masia academy, but after realising that his route to the first-team would be blocked by the brilliant Dani Alves he took it upon himself to find a new club.
He signed his first professional contract with Arsenal at the age of 16, and after waiting patiently over the past four years has finally cemented his place in the senior squad in north London.
With 19 appearances to date in all competitions in 2014/15, Bellerin reflects positively on his decision to turn his back on Barcelona, and says if presented with the same situation he would make the same choice again.
"I got the chance and I took it", he was quoted by Goal.com saying in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca.
"Wherever you are, you have to work. If I'd stayed at Barcelona, I don't know if I'd have made it to the elite, you just never know.
"I've worked as hard as I could and always had the mentality of reaching the top. Whether I was in one place or another, I'd have done the same."
The summer signing of fellow full-backs Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers presented Bellerin with even more competition to make the spot on the right side of Arsenal's defence his own, but injuries to both of his teammates presented him with a regular run in the side.
The Spain U21 international grabbed the opportunity with both hands and has not looked back since, establishing himself as a pretty permanent fixture in Wenger's back four this term.
Asked whether he thinks he's now plying his trade in the most competitive domestic division in the world, Bellerin was pretty pragmatic in his response, paying tribute to La Liga back in his homeland as well.
"It would be madness to say that it [the Premier League] isn't among the best leagues in the world," - Hector Bellerin
"A lot of people in Spain watch Premier League games and know what kind of a league it is," he explained. "It would be madness to say that it isn't among the best leagues in the world.
"The Spanish league is also at a very high level, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético."
Of course, Bellerin is not the first - or last - player to follow the familiar path from Barcelona to Arsenal, with Cesc Fabregas making the switch before him, and Alexis Sanchez swapping Spain for north London last summer.
The two clubs have negotiated deals for numerous other players as well, with Alex Song and most recently Thomas Vermaelen heading in the opposite direction to take on a new challenge with Luis Enrique's side following several seasons with the Gunners.
Arsenal fans: How pleased have you been with Hector Bellerin's performances this season? Can he make the right-back spot his own? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!
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