Put together a string of half-decent performances at any club these days and your name is, by default, subsequently linked with a multi-million pound move to every other team on earth – and some even further afield.
Spanish prospect Hector Bellerin has done much better than that, he’s put together an entire season of strong performances, and so it is only to be expected that the sports media should start to play fast and loose with the rumour mill.
Ever since his return to the Nou Camp in the Champions League, Hector has seen the speculation and supposition about a possible return to the club of his origin ramp up 10-fold.
This week, the 21-year-old moved to quell the flames somewhat, reaffirming his commitment to Arsenal.
Speaking to Goal.com, he said: “I left Barca without looking back. I left focused on London and Arsenal and I am really happy there. I signed a new deal last year and there’s still a lot in front of me. It’s a club that’s forming a great team, with players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
“My future is there and I am happy where I am. A lot of things can happen in football, but I am at Arsenal, giving my all for the club. I am not thinking of going anywhere else.”
I know it’s difficult not to be cynical about these sorts of things, given the litany of badge-kissing players who have quickly forgotten such loyalties when the cash has been flashed, but it’s good to hear nonetheless.
Hector has impressed in all quarters thus far, but he still has much still to learn. The performance at the Nou Camp, in particular, showed that there are elements of his game that will need tightening up before he can be considered top class.
On a purely defensive basis, and according to whoscored.com statistics, the youngster has averaged 1.8 tackles, 1.9 interceptions, and 2.5 clearances per match.
By way of comparison, Tottenham’s Kyle Walker has managed 2.5, 2.7, and 3.3 by the same measure, Leciester’s Danny Simpson has managed 2.1, 3.1, and 4.2, and Manchester City’s Bacary Sagna has 1.9, 1.7, and 3.8.
In the short term, I think Hector will remain at the Emirates, at least while Arsene Wenger is in charge. The impact that the Frenchman has on the players is obvious and is something that is mentioned time and again in interview, particularly in cases where Arsene has handed the player his big break.
Add to that the number of players at the club whose first language is Spanish, and others who are fluent in the language. Couple that with a bit of success here and there (please god) and you never know, we may have ourselves the start of a long-term relationship.
In the longer term, however, and if he continues on his current trajectory, I would expect Barcelona to come calling, and for Hector to answer that call. The lure of the mother ship is seldom one that is ignored, particularly by those with a history at Barcelona, and I don’t expect the young defender will be any different.
But, for now, let’s enjoy the best of his formative years. From the bits and pieces the club release on Youtube, he seems a thoroughly likeable and decent character and one who is a settled part of the team.
South America duo David Ospina and Alexis Sanchez were in action for their respective countries last night (Thursday), with victory for the former, and defeat for the latter.
Ospina was between the sticks as Colombia edged Bolivia 3-2 in their World Cup qualifier. From what I can gather, he made it through the 90 minutes without dropping a clanger so that’s some good news.
Alexis, meanwhile, saw his Chile side surrender a one-goal advantage to lose 2-1 to Argentina in their World Cup qualifier. Chile’s goal was scored by Felipe Gutierrez and, by all accounts, Alexis had a night to forget, with his only contribution of note a late free-kick that was wasted.
Not great stuff from the short-of-form Chilean, but there’s another chance to turn things around on Tuesday when he is back in action against Venezuela.
Elsewhere it’s a busy night on the international scene as Joel Campebll, Alex Iwobi, Mohammed Elneny, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud could all feature for their respective countries.
Back tomorrow with news of a Giroud hat-trick…