Arsenal star Hector Bellerin has opened up on his future plans with Arsenal having been heavily linked with a return to former club Barcelona in recent months.
The Barcelona-born right-back has been a revelation for the Gunners since breaking into the side during the 2014/15 season and has naturally attracted interest from some of Europe's top clubs.
Bellerin began his footballing life at Barcelona's La Masia academy, and now after months of speculation he has openly addressed the rumours linking him with a return to the La Liga giants.
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Speaking with the London Evening Standard at the launch of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the 21-year-old admitted that though he is flattered at being linked with Barca, he actually has no intentions of leaving Arsenal.
Having joined Arsenal at the age of 16, he has progressed into being one of the best young full-backs in the world.
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“If I wanted to play there I would have stayed there,” he said. “I was very happy when Arsenal showed interest in me and I decided to come here. I’m not looking back, I’m just looking to help Arsenal.”
“It’s nice for a player to know that big teams want you but I’m very happy here,” he explains. “I’ve still got three years left on my contract so I’m just focused on playing every single week, improving and hopefully making things happen here at Arsenal.
“I’m not in a rush to extend the contract. I’m happy. I’m comfortable. I want to be here a long time.”
Following a short loan spell at Watford, Bellerin wasted no time in breaking into the Arsenal first team, and even managed to force his way ahead of experienced France international Mathieu Debuchy.
He has since gone on to make 74 appearances for Arsenal across all competitions, scoring three goals in the process.
And this year he has even managed to force his way into the Spanish national team set up, making three appearances. He was an unused substitute as La Roja made their way to the quarter-finals of the European Championships.
Ignoring the hype
It would be easy for a 21-year-old to get carried away with the hype that surrounds them in today's game, but Bellerin has displayed a mindset beyond his tender years by telling the Standard that he can't believe all of the praise said about him and knows he must keep learning and improving.
“I’m only 21, so there’s many more things still to improve. The ceiling is so high. I just need to keep learning and improving. You can take the praise on board but you can’t believe it too much or you’ll relax and stop working. I’ll continue doing the same thing I’ve done through my whole career. Learning, analysing every game and hopefully improving.”
He also went on to discuss the club's impressive start to the season, which sees them sit joint top with Manchester City on 23 points.
“We’ve started really well in all competitions and every single player has been on point. You can see how excited everyone is, not just the players but the fans and all the coaching staff. Everyone’s got a connection and is on the same wavelength and you can see that on the pitch.”
And with the North London Derby against Tottenham on the horizon, the Spanish international highlighted that he is aware of just how important a match it is.
“You don’t need to be told,” he said. “You just know.
“It’s like a rule you just learn when you come into the club and you can see when you interact with fans how important it is to them. Even though you haven’t been in the country a long time, even the new players like Granit [Xhaka] and Lucas [Perez] know how important it is for the whole club to win the game.”