Hector Bellerin broke through the ranks to establish himself as a first-team regular under Arsene Wenger and his ability has earned him praise from Wenger himself, his teammates and pundits.
He even broke the club's internal 40m dash record previously held by Theo Walcott, who had previously beaten Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
Bellerin initially made his Arsenal first team debut in 2013 and was then sent on loan to Championship side Watford. He struggled at Vicarage Road and it seemed his time as an Arsenal player would never deliver what it once promised.
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But following injuries to Laurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy early in the season Bellerin was thrown into the deep end in his first full start in Arsenal’s Champions League tier with Borussia Dortmund.
Arsenal would go on to lose that game 2-0, but Bellerin's performance on the back of such little experience was one of few highlights for the Gunners that night.
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How did he fare in his first EPL Campaign?
Bellerin played 20 Premier League games and scored two well-taken goals, which confirm his desire and ability to push forward in an Arsenal system favouring attack over defence.
He created 12 chances and won 45% of his duels with a pass accuracy of 83% and five yellow cards. He’s still a young player in need of experience, which could be seen on a few occasions, where his concentration let him down combined with his eager and aggressive style of play.
Furthermore, it could be argued that his crossing and defensive composure needs improvement, but overall, Bellerin is a very consistent performer, who rarely has a bad game.
It’s also a joy to watch such an energetic young player turn up in the big games giving off an aura of adamant will to be the best. He finished off the season with a trophy as Arsenal secured back-to-back FA Cup wins beating Aston Villa in the final.
Will Barcelona come calling?
Over the years, Arsenal has been regarded as a selling club. Wenger even said that the club has been forced into selling its top players in order to balance the books following the construction of the Emirates Stadium.
“We had to sell our best players for years to stay at the top. Today we are over that hurdle and we can have high ambitions again. But for years it was difficult,” he said in the past.
As Wenger confesses, it was difficult for years not having the financial firepower to compete with the elite. Therefore, securing Champions League football throughout that difficult period has certainly shortened Arsenal’s wait to be back at the top again.
Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, Alex Hleb, Thierry Henry, Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas are among players who have left Arsenal in their prime to play for Barcelona.
However, times have changed, and Arsenal are no longer in need of cashing in on their prize assets. This leads to think that Barcelona can no longer pick an Arsenal player of choice and get their man.
Or can they?
Barcelona just signed right-back Aleix Vidal, and Daniel Alves agreed a new two-year deal, but Barcelona are known to be fond of Spanish talent – especially former La Masia players, and they could see Bellerin as their future long term right-back.
Bellerin may hold a soft spot in his heart for Barcelona having arrived from the famous La Masia academy in 2011. Even though he may seem content with life in London, the Catalans might make use of the same “questionable” proceedings used in the Fabregas saga in order to land Bellerin once their transfer ban is lifted.
For now, Bellerin is an Arsenal player, and there can be little doubt that he has an immense potential to be one of the best right backs in the world, and should Barcelona come calling, Arsenal might just ask them what they are smoking; that is of course, if the Catalans decide to approach the club before the player this time.
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