Football

Hector Bellerin confirmed as Arsenal's fastest player, Per Mertesacker not slowest

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Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin is officially the club's fastest ever player, at least over 40 metres, after shaving one-hundredth of Theo Walcott's benchmark time during sprint tests at the club's London Colney training ground last summer.

Gunners legend Thierry Henry had held the club record for the best part of a decade with a time of 4.82sec, until speed demon Theo Walcott came along and smashed it to pieces with an effort timed at 4.42sec.

Walcott must have thought that he was safe at the top of the leaderboard for years to come, but during pre-season Bellerin raised eyebrows in the Arsenal dressing room by doing just enough to prove he's even more rapid than the England international.

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Hard work pays off

Bellerin was asked about the achievement by the Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson and admitted it came as a huge surprise, but was perhaps the marker he needed to push on and stake his claim for a place in Arsene Wenger's starting XI during a breakthrough campaign for the Spanish youth international.

He said: “It was really unexpected. I worked a lot on my speed and power with the conditioning coach last year. The work that you don’t see, in the shadows, really shows on the pitch. We were just having a test and then they told me I was the fastest at the club. I did not beat it by that much. There was a bit of banter and he is trying to beat me now.”

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Walcott wants a rematch

Unsurprisingly Walcott is keen to reclaim his spot as Arsenal's sprint king, with a cruciate ligament injury robbing him of that opportunity last year.

“Did he have the wind, was it downhill?” Walcott asked before intimating he's confident of going faster. “We’ll wait until the summer and the perfect conditions like he had.”

Mertesacker not the slowest

Elsewhere Wilson's report also reveals that Alexis Sanchez is not too far behind Bellerin and Walcott, although his strength lies in the first 15m and then tapers off a little compared to the raw pace of the right-sided duo.

Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also thought to set impressive times, although they do better when the distance is slightly longer on a special course set up at London Colney.

Mesut Ozil and Serge Gnabry also get a positive mention, but quite remarkably Per Mertesacker is definitely not the slowest player in those tests.

The identity of the man who finished last is a closely-guarded secret at the Emirates, but apparently its not their often-criticised World Cup winner despite his obvious physical limitations.

Far more importantly though the pace of Bellerin has given Gunners boss Arsene Wenger a fantastic new option at full-back, one that helped keep Raheem Sterling quiet last weekend and looks to have a very bright future in the game at the top level is his rapid rate of development continues.

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Topics:
Football
Per Mertesacker
Premier League
Arsenal
Theo Walcott

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