Over recent weeks, Hector Bellerin has come on leaps and bounds. Since his shaky first start in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund, the run in the team has seen him progress at a rate that nobody, including Arsene Wenger, could have expected.
When he played that game against Dortmund, he looked out of place, his inexperience showing. He looked lightweight, his positioning was poor and defending was shocking. He did not show any of the blistering pace, or attributes, that had got many people glowing about as he came up through the youths.
Since that first game, the improvement has been remarkable. Peaking in the recent performance against Chelsea where he had Eden Hazard in his pocket for the entire game.
He looks like a typical young Arsenal full back in the Cole, Clichy, Gibbs mould. Extremely quick, meaning he can make up for his defensive lapses, and happy to bomb forward.
Very rarely now do you see him use that electrifying pace to get back into position. Instead, we now see it going forward, which he does regularly, providing the width to the side with Ramsey dropping inside.
Yes, he can still improve, his crossing is relatively poor and he can still be beaten easily when someone stands him up, but his performances are going to give Arsenal a selection problem, both for the rest of this year and the start of next.
With Bacary Sagna leaving last summer, Arsenal signed Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle for £10 million. After just a few games, we as Arsenal fans were happy. Debuchy was performing, both at right back and as an emergency centre back. Then he got injured.
It was that injury, and poor form of Calum Chambers that gave Bellerin his chance. And boy how he has now taken it.
The question to ask now is do Arsenal now invest the time in Bellerin, give him the rest of the season, and develop him into Arsenal’s right back for the next decade, or do they return to Debuchy, bring back the experienced man, who looked shaky in the FA Cup semi final?
Of course, we need a squad, and as we are seeing at left back, you can carry two top class full backs. But will Debuchy be happy with that? At best competing with, at worst playing second fiddle to, a 20 year old full back.
Remember, Debuchy is a French international. Their first choice right back. And at the end of next season, the European Championships are to be held in his home country. Would he want to risk losing his Arsenal place, and therefore losing his France place?
We could see a scenario where Debuchy’s Arsenal career is over before it has even begun.
And what does this mean for Chambers? His star seems to have fallen. After starting the season with a bang, forcing his way into the England squad, he now seems to have slipped back. The signing of Gabriel means he is now 4th choice centre back, and Bellerin has leap frogged above him as right back.
At £16 million and still just 20, it would be silly to write him off (why am I even typing that?) but you have to ask where Chambers will get his game time from. Maybe an option would be to loan him out to a Premier League side until January, where he can play week in week out at centre back.
As for Carl Jenkinson, I doubt we will ever see him in an Arsenal shirt again. It is sad to say as he is an Arsenal boy, through and through, but if you are not good enough, you are not good enough. And sadly Jenkinson is our 4th best right back. After playing a full season at West Ham, he has proven he is Premier League, if not Arsenal quality. And a reported £10 million transfer fee is a lot of money, even for someone as cash rich as Arsenal.
To add to the scenario, what would happen if Debuchy decided to leave to a club to guarantee first team football? Would that mean Chambers staying, as a back up right back, meaning he would miss out on important development at centre back? Or would Arsenal sacrifice the £10 million for Jenkinson and keep him around as 2nd choice. I am sure he would just as happily sit on Arsenal’s bench than start for West Ham.
The Arsenal right back conundrum is certainly a confuddled one. And all caused by the excellent for of a young Spaniard.
We certainly have a player on our hands. Hopefully, as Bellerin’s career progresses, he does not go the same was as Cole (greedy), Clichy (never improved) or Gibbs (injury prone). We maybe have our right back for the next decade.