If you ask any Premier League follower who the two best players at Arsenal are, they are likely to name Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Chile international forward Sanchez has been superb for the Gunners for the past three or so years, while Ozil is the architect-in-chief in midfield for the North London club.
Sanchez and Ozil deservedly get the recognition that they do, both from the Arsenal fans and from those outside the club, but one player who doesn’t always get the same adulation is Hector Bellerin. The Spaniard is not yet a world-class defender, but it is only a matter of time before the 22-year-old right-back establishes himself as one of the best in his position on the planet.
Bellerin has been on the books of Arsenal since 2011 and has a contract with the Premier League giants until June 2023, but his future at the Emirates Stadium is wrapped up in uncertainty. According to media reports, Spanish giants Barcelona want him back following his departure from the Catalan side in 2011.
Barcelona are already a brilliant team without Bellerin, and could win the league title in Spain this season despite latest La Liga betting odds placing them second favourites at 9/4. The defending Spanish champions are also in the running for the Champions League crown this campaign.
However, Barcelona have never truly replaced Daniel Alves. Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal have done their best, but they have not been consistent and will probably never reach the level of Alves. It is understandable why the Blaugrana are looking at Bellerin.
Make no mistake, Bellerin is not the finished article, but he is certainly a very talented and promising young right-back who is only going to get better. The youngster has already become a full Spain international and is the first-choice right-back at Arsenal. It is hard to envisage at this moment in time anyone dislodging him from his place at the Emirates.
Blessed with speed, Bellerin is brilliant both at going forward and at defending. The youngster has a pass accuracy of 84.4% in the Premier League this season, something that would well suit possession-based Barcelona. Arsenal would get top dollar for the Spaniard if they decide to sell him in the summer transfer window, but should they?
Selling Bellerin would send the wrong signal to the rest of the team and to the fans. This is a young player who could develop into one of the world’s best, and the Emirates faithful would certainly not be happy if he stars for some other team. True, Arsenal could easily make Barcelona pay £40 million and above for Bellerin, but the Gunners should not think just about money.
Who would replace Bellerin in the team if he left? Mathieu Debuchy? The Frenchman is 31 years of age and is not a long-term solution. Carl Jenkinson is already 25 years old, and he has not progressed and developed as well as he should have. Calum Chambers could be a viable replacement, but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been on record stating that he wants him to develop as a centre-back rather than as a right-back.
For Arsenal to progress as a club and on the pitch, they must not sell Bellerin to Barcelona in the summer transfer window. Not only would it infuriate the fans and alienate them further, but it would also leave a big hole in the starting lineup.