Recently Hector Bellerin came out to once again assure the public that his heart remains in North London. Arsenal have suffered from a lack of leaders, but Bellerin could embody he captain that we need.
Few players in the British top flight have been able to make as potent an impact on their respective squads as Hector Bellerin has for Arsenal. We all know how Bellerin found his way into the starting XI and if it wasn’t for an unfortunate slew of injuries to Mathieu Debuchy, there’s a good chance Bellerin would still be warming the bench.
However, thankfully we do not live in a parallel universe and Hector Bellerin has rightly become one of the first names on the Arsenal team sheet.
Week in an week out we have see the young Spaniard grow before our eyes. His obvious qualities like pace and agility were pivotal in his initial impact, however it is his concentration, discipline and tireless work ethic that have kept him in the manager’s plans. As a product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, Bellerin has deep roots with the La Liga super power, and it seems that every so often there is another story about Barcelona’s interest in the talented right back.
Recently Bellerin spoke about his affection for England and Arsenal. Speaking to Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo, the 21-year-old right back had this to say about his current situation: ‘I say every year that England is my home now I’ve lived there for many years; my family and my girlfriend are there. I’m very happy so I don’t see myself anywhere other than at Arsenal.’
That sounds like a man who knows where his heart is and knows where he wants to play his football. This type of passion and commitment is exactly what Arsenal need in a captain. With Mikel Arteta on his way to retirement and Per Mertesacker in and out of the starting XI due to form and fitness, Arsenal are crying out for a new leader. Bellerin could be exactly what the Gunners need.
Arsenal are clearly short of leaders at the moment. Players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will constantly be caught up in transfer rumors and while they do fantastic things on the pitch, neither one of those players is what you would call entrenched in the Arsenal way.
Aaron Ramsey and Santi Carzola do not really have the personalities you would look for in a captain. Jack Wilshere would be a fantastic option if he could remain healthy for a significant period of time, but as it stands the young midfielder needs to concentrate on remaining healthy rather than leading his teammates.
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud simply do not play at the level needed to keep them in the starting lineup every single game. Petr Cech is another solid option but I still can’t get the images of him celebrating trophies with Chelsea out of my mind.
Bellerin is still very young. At only 21 years of a age it may be difficult for him to step in as a leader right away, but he doesn’t need to don the armband next season. Per Mertesacker is still at the club and his contract runs until June of next year. I suspect that the massive German will remain as the de facto club captain, and although he may not play much his strong personality will be crucial to keep the dressing room together. Bellerin can understudy Mertesacker for another season and learn how to lead from the BFG.
If you are still skeptical over Bellerin’s tender age, remember that Cesc Fabregas was only 21 when he first captained Arsenal as well. The similarities between the two Barcelona bred footballers is astounding. Like Bellerin, Cesc is a product of La Masia and broke into the Arsenal first team due to injuries to more senior members of the squad.
While at the club, Cesc was a hero. His performances as an Arsenal captain are the stuff of legend like his infamous brace against Aston Villa while being miles away from fully fit. Bellerin has already put in some unbelievable performances himself. Including his fantastic display against Bayern Munich at the Emirates last season. His scintillating interception and assist in the final minutes of the match will live long in the memory.
We all know what eventually happened to Cesc. Fabregas returned to Barcelona where he played for three seasons before eventually joining hated rivals Chelsea. No one would want to see Bellerin walk down such an unfortunate path, but the player himself has come out time and again voicing his desire to remain an Arsenal player.
Bellerin has remained patient at Arsenal, biding his time until getting his opportunity. Arsenal’s young right back has all the qualities you need in a good captain: skill, loyalty and a desire to achieve great things with the club.