Hector Bellerin has come in for some stick this season. To a point where some Arsenal fans say they would be “happy if he leaves in the summer”. For me, the Spanish right back is taken for granted. And the fact that it has taken me so long to defend him shows that even I take him for granted.
Bellerin has not had the best of seasons. He has been up and down. Maybe even regressed a little. But it needs to be remembered that he is still just 22 years old. He seems to have been around for a long time – he has – but there is still plenty of time to improve.
As fans, we continually moan our players are not good enough. “They would not start for any other top side” I often hear. Yet Bellerin would.
If Bellerin left, Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Real Madrid will all want him. He would walk into every single one of the their sides. He is in the top 1 or 2 right backs in the Premier League, and amongst the best in Europe.
He has had two major issues holding him back this season. Tactics and competition.
His main problem is he is being left isolated by Wenger’s line ups. He has played all season without a winger that gives him any defensive cover, and going forward a winger who doesn’t help him out. He is always left 2 on 1 – both in defence and attack.
This causes him to be over exposed when defending, and isolated when attacking.
He has also struggled due to lack of competition for his place.
Bellerin has played every minute of every Premier League game this season. We moan about the fitness issues of Koscielny, Ramsey, Welbeck and Wilshere; Mesut Ozil loves a sick day. But here we have a player who is available every weekend. And yet we want him out?
There are times this season he should have been taken out of the first team. Either due to a drop in fitness or drop in form, but we do not have a quality back up.
Bellerin does not have someone to push him. Look how Nacho Monreal has performed this season since we signed Saed Kolasinac.
On that, before yesterday’s game, I saw many comments along the lines of “what does Kolasinac need to do to get a game”. He needs to perform better than Monreal, who has been or player of the season thus far, that’s what he has to do.
In the right hand side, Bellerin has no completion. No one to drive him forward, to replace him. He has perhaps got a little bit comfortable with his guaranteed place in the team.
The criticism has got so silly people have started to criticise his dress sense. Having been to Spain, you see a lot of young 20-somethings dresses like him. The long hair, the earring. They dress like weirdos. It’s their culture. And as for the modelling, we all enjoyed Freddie Ljungberg’s Calvin Klein photoshots. Leave the lad alone. I’d rather Bellerin models in his spare time rather than gambles, part takes in sex videos or sleeps with his best mates misses. Or drinks until he vomits, strips and starts abusing US tourists stranded at Heathrow after flights were grounded following the attacks by terrorists on the World Trade Center.
A few have abused Bellerin over his comments that what Alexis Sanchez ‘Demands from everyone, sometimes it can be too much.’ Some have labelled this as showing he has a weak mentality.
But we have all been there. Given 100%, only for a boss to demand more from us. And what happens? Rather than your boss being motivational, he ends up demotivating you. Demanding ‘too much’ can be detrimental.
I always feel with Héctor Bellerin, with his cockney/Spanish accent that he is as close to being a fan of Arsenal as any other player. In his recent Q&A with Oxford University, he talks about the joy of hearing his song sung for the first time – one which is not sung enough.
He talks about Arsenal Fan TV. About how “it’s so wrong for someone who claims to be a fan and their success is fed of a failure. How can that be a fan? They just people hustling. Trying to make money.”
He talks about how he tries to listen to what managers and coaches say on how to improve, about how he has learnt to ignore those commenting from outside the game who just like their voices heard.
Bellerin comes across someone who is smart and passionate. Passionate about Arsenal.
We should be backing the likes of Bellerin, not starting a hate campaign to get him out of our club.
He is already one of the best right backs in Europe. Within a few years he will be the best right back in the world.