Arsenal: Hector Bellerin defection just the beginning

Hector Bellerin’s agent has talked up the possibility of a Serie A move. The Arsenal right-back’s potential defection is just the start if the downwards trajectory under Unai Emery continues.

Arsenal’s two best and most impactful players, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, are stalling on signing new contracts. The centre-forwards have routinely rescued the Gunners throughout the past two years, and as this season increasingly spirals down the toilet as well, their hopes of Champions League football slip away with it.

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The aim of the campaign was quite clear: regain Champions League football. Unai Emery was handed a rather plain but pressing mandate, and thus far, he has painfully failed to deliver. Lacazette and Aubameyang, players who should be playing in the Champions League, are thus considering their futures. And justifiably so.

But they are not the only ones. While the strike pair are perhaps the most important and deserving players in the team, there are others who are capable of playing in the Champions League — and likely believe they should be playing in Europe’s premier competition every season. One of those is Hector Bellerin, who is reaching his prime years and might be tempted by a new challenge away from the club.

When speaking to Sky Italia this week, his agent, Albert Botines, did not exactly reject the notion of a possible Serie A move:

“At the moment he is focused on the team’s commitments, comes from a bad injury and is returning to his levels. He likes Italy, the interest of an Italian club has been there but I can’t reveal it. He has a long contract and it won’t be easy to take him away from Arsenal. He is vice-captain, we will see how the season will go.”

It is difficult to discern quite how seriously Bellerin is considering an Arsenal departure. After all, he went from boy to man in north London, owes his professional career to the club and has a unique connection with the fanbase and entire organisation. It would be a more difficult choice for Bellerin than it would many others.

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But despite his inherent loyalty to the team, Bellerin is also a competitive individual. He is a professional footballer. He wants to win titles, trophies, to challenge himself against the best of the best. He wants to push himself, domestically, in Europe and on the international stage. And the way the team is heading under Emery, he will not be given the opportunity to challenge at the Emirates.

If the team’s trajectory continues to spiral out of control under the ostensibly hapless Emery, Bellerin will not be the only one who begins to feel like this. Lucas Torreira is reportedly unsettled, seeking a return to Italy, while the likes of Matteo Guendouzi and the many developing young players will begin to search for opportunities to develop their careers away from the club.

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And the most concerning element of it all is that none of these players can be blamed. They are all well within their rights for wanting an exit. However sad it is to concede, Bellerin will just be the start should Arsenal continue in their wretched, Emery-led ways.