Hector Bellerin is Arsenal’s best right back.
He is amongst the best full backs in Europe, which is highlighted by the fact that Champions League finalists PSG are in pole position for him, with Bayern Munich and Juventus sniffing behind.
You do not gain that quality of suitors if you are a poor player.
Mikel Arteta rates Bellerin. He likes him as a player and as a person. He would not want to lose him. But sometimes circumstance contrive and an exit you do not really want to happen, happens.
What the Hector Bellerin situation shows is what we knew earlier this season. That nearly every Arsenal player has their price, and would be up for sale if that price is met.
Excluding new signings (including Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares and Willian Saliba), there are only 5 unsellable players in the Arsenal squad:
Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang
Outside of those 5, Arsenal have been willing to listen to offers for any other player this summer. Including Hector Bellerin.
Whilst Bellerin is a top right back, he can be improved on. And eve if we decide to go with Cedric Soares and Aisnley Maitland-Niles as the options at right back, he raises key funds to improve the side in positions that are more influential than right back.
The news about Bellerin was accompanied by pundits saying “for the right price” and like with many other Arsenal players, it will come down to money.
“The right price” at the moment seems to be whatever cash is still needed to fund moves for Thomas Partey and / or Houssem Aouar. That pair would cost the club around £90million.
The Arsenal XI would be weaker with Maitland-Niles at right back over Bellerin. But would be stronger with Partey in a midfield 3 alongside Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos.
Arteta then needs to decide whether signing Partey strengthens the team more than selling Bellerin weakens it. I feel the answer is yes.
Looking forward to a team without Bellerin, Arsenal would probably be relying on Maitland-Niles as first choice right back. He is suspect defensively.
Maitland-Niles is more sorted to the 343 that Arteta has played recently.
If Mikel sticks to that formation, Maitland-Niles will be an upgrade on Bellerin at right wing back, due to his superior attacking.
However if Partey joins, Arteta will likely switch to 433. That will put pressure on Maitland-Niles defensively.
However a midfield 3 rather than a 2 (in a 4231) will provide Maitland-Niles with extra cover in defence.
The right hand side of that midfield 3 (likely to be Partey) plays a bit wider than they would in a midfield 2. This allows them to drift wide to help out the full defensively, knowing they still have their 2 midfield team mates inside.
Partey would provide Mialtnad-Niles with extra defensive assistance.
Liverpool won the league with a right back that can not defend in Trent Alexander-Arnold.
They did this by overloading their right hand side with attacking play, and having Jordan Henderson drift right to cover the full-back.
Teams would be reluctant to attack Liverpool knowing that they had Mo Salah and Alexander-Arnold coming the other way. And when they did attack they often found Henderson or Fabinho as an extra man on the right hand side.
So at Arsenal in a 433, Arsenal would overload the right hand side with Pepe and Maitland-Niles as an attacking double act. And then would have Partey drift across to to reinforce the flank defensively.
In games where we might want extra defensive cover, the option would be there to play Cedric Soares instead of Maitland-Niles.
We will only be able to truly judge the squad Arteta is building once the window is shut.
Arsenal will have to sell a few popular players – the likes of Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Rob Holding – to finance improving the squad over all.
Looking forward to 2020/21, if we sold Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Torreira, Lacazette& Chambers, whilst gained Cedric, Gabriel, Saliba, Mari, Partey, Aouar and Willian, the first XI and squad will undoubtedly be stronger than 2019/20.
You need to break a few eggs to make an omelete.