There have been some key changes at Arsenal this season from David Ospina replacing Wojciech Szczesny as Arsenal No.1 to the encouraging progression in Francis Coquelin who is now Arsenal‘s midfield general, but what of former Barcelona starlet Hector Bellerin?
Much was expected of the highly rated Spaniard who was plucked from Barcelona‘s highly successful La Masia academy in 2011 and it took a while for the right back to settle in England. He signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in July 2013 which was duly followed by his first competitive debut against West Bromwich Albion as a sub on 25th September 2013.
Bellerin enjoyed a short spell at Championship side Watford for just eight games and impressed at the Hornets, most notably against Yeovil putting in a strong defensive display and grabbing an assist.
This season has been massive for the former Barcelona full back, he was given his chance against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions league due to injuries to Mathieu Debuchy and Nacho Monreal. It was a baptism of fire for Bellerin who looked out of his depth in the 2-0 loss.
It has been an important learning curve and since the loss in Dortmund he has impressed and not only that he has been consistent. A few months on and he has made 16 premier league appearances, he has taken his opportunity with both hands and it will be very difficult for Mathieu Debuchy to get his place back.
Bellerin‘s stats make impressive reading and has been one of the reasons why Arsenal went on an unbeaten run stretching all the way back to the 7th February when they lost at White Hart Lane, that was a run that saw Arsenal win 9 out of 10 games but a run that ended last night with a 1-0 home loss to Swansea. Bellerin has won 28 tackles, made 36 interceptions and 57 clearances.
Bellerin has now established himself as Arsenal’s first choice right back in Debuchy‘s absence, has gone from strength to strength and his really enjoying his time in the Arsenal first team.
“Those difficult games teach you a lot, definitely,” said Bellerin. “If you get thrown into the deep end, it’s a good experience to have as a young player.
“You are nervous, you have a lot of pressure and sometimes you won’t perform the way you actually can.
“That’s a good way to learn. When you play those games, they are the hardest games of the year and it means you are ready to play in any other game.
“It’s really good training for you, it’s a help as you learn and then you can show that when you played like that it was just an accident.”
Bellerin added: “I left there (Barcelona) as a kid and now I feel like I’m a man. To move to a house on my own, to move to another city, another country, learn about another culture and to really grow up.
“When I was at Barcelona, I used to play as a winger, now I’m a defender and I think I’ve grown up on and off the pitch. I feel really confident, I feel I can play there and I feel like I’m proving to everyone that I can play in the Arsenal first team.
The Spaniard also laid to bed any fears of him switching Emirates for a return to the Camp Nou
“I’m really settled in the club, in the city and really enjoying myself. I feel really lucky to share a dressing room with the players I am now.
“We need to finish well. It’s important that in the last month we play well and it’s one of the most important months because then you leave on holiday, you don’t want to go away thinking in your head: ‘why did we end up like that?’
“We are playing really well, getting really good results and now we just want to keep going for the last four games and keep pushing ourselves as much as we can.
“It’s not done yet, we still need to win points, still need to win games and hopefully that’s going to put us in the right mindset for the beginning of next season.”
Bellerin is now 20 and surely has a bright future ahead of him in the right and white of Arsenal.
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