After making his competitive Arsenal debut back in 2013, Hector Bellerin proved he could be the new main man at right-back, and from the 2014/15 season, that would indeed become the case.
Bringing energy, athleticism, speed, and attacking threat to Arsene Wenger’s side, Bellerin was a joy to watch down the right flank. He handled the pressure incredibly well and developed as a player as each week passed, leaving supporters excited for what was to come.
What arrived from then onwards certainly didn’t disappoint, with the Spanish international securing a number of awards due to his impressive displays in red and white, most notably being named in the PFA Team of the year in 2016.
In my opinion, Bellerin established himself as one of the best right-backs in football and he was always exciting to watch. Bellerin had big boots to fill as Bacary Sagna departed the Emirates around the same time he burst onto the scene, but it felt like a perfect transition.
The former Barcelona youth product went on to make 239 first-team appearances, scoring 9 goals and providing 29 assists over 7 years.
Unfortunately, Bellerin’s time at the club wasn’t always filled with happiness, and serious injuries brought his progress to a frustrating halt particularly over recent seasons.
Between December 2018 and December 2019, Bellerin was on the sidelines for 315 days, missing a total of 49 matches. One of those injuries was a cruciate ligament rupture which he suffered against Chelsea and is the main reason for his lengthy absence during this period.
It was a case of incredibly harsh luck and a real shame to see one of our own players go through that, let alone someone who has been such a fantastic servant for the club.
The 26-year-old recently spoke out about his personal struggles whilst going through the recovery process and highlighted how much of a dark time it was for him.
“It was the first time that I had got injured like that, and I had friends and teammates that had gone through it before, I had my family next to me, but I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen to me,” Hector said.
“I talk about an experience when I came back and I wasn’t really training, and I started going out a lot, I started drinking and all this stuff and you know for a footballer that’s not what you’re supposed to say but it’s the truth.”
When Bellerin started to pick up more and more injuries, it was a big concern because he was a player that was showing consistency and quality in his performances. So when obstacles start to appear, you always worry that the player will struggle to reach the same heights as they once have done.
Everyone will have their own opinion, but for me, Bellerin never looked the same from the 2018/19 season and I will admit that I am one of those who were critical of his performances.
Looking back, I was perhaps too harsh at times and that brings me to my next point. It’s important to remember all of the good that Bellerin achieved here, being part of the FA cup success in 2015, 2017, and 2020, for example.
On top of all of the injury struggles, the Spaniard eventually found himself to be out of favour too, with Ainsley-Maitland-Niles, Calum Chambers and Cedric Soares all fighting for a place at right-back.
There’s nothing wrong in saying Bellerin was not at the level he was previously, that’s just the way it was. However, some of the stick he received was unfair and some of us forgot to look at the bigger picture.
This summer, it had got to the stage where Bellerin himself asked to leave the club to pursue a fresh challenge, and I applaud him for that.
Not only did it make complete sense for all parties involved, but he deserves credit for looking at the situation and wanting to do something about it. The last thing I would have wanted to see was him becoming unhappy and leaving the club on bad terms.
When Real Betis came calling, it presented a fantastic opportunity for Bellerin to get his career back on track. It wasn’t until Deadline Day that the player secured a season-long loan deal to the La Liga side.
The Spaniard made his Betis debut on Monday evening and put in an impressive shift during the clash with Granada. The full-back won three groud duels and completed two key passes as he helped his side claim all three points.
I’m sure I am not the only one who is super pleased for him after what has been a challenging couple of years.
It is easy to forget that Bellerin is still young and has a lot of years left in him, so I suppose we can’t rule out him becoming a valuable member of the team once again, but with Takehiro Tomiyasu now through the door, it looks like a long way back.
Knowing Bellerin as a player, however, his determination, attitude, and professionalism will remain positive and he will keep pushing to be the best version of himself.
If he can find consistency and rediscover similar form from the 2014/15 days, I would certainly like to see him represent the Arsenal once again.
Whatever happens in the future, I wish Hector all the very best this season and I look forward to seeing how gets on for the club he grew up supporting.
The way in which things have developed is a huge shame, there’s no doubt about that.
Witnessing a player flourish one moment and experience a downfall the next is always a tough pill to swallow, but as the saying goes, don’t be sad because it’s over, smile because it happened.
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Source by Football London