Hector Bellerin’s decision to put pen to paper on a new six-year deal is a real boost for the club and could signal the beginning of a new chapter at the Emirates.
Undoubtedly one of Hale End’s biggest successes of the last five years, the young Spaniard has caught the attention of Europe’s top clubs with a string of quite excellent and fearless performances.
He has made the right back position his own. He has usurped an established international in Matthieu Debuchy and kept another promising youth team product, Carl Jenkinson, on the sidelines.
His first appearance for the Spanish national team came this year and is sure to be the first of many over the course of the next decade. In short, it has been an excellent 2015/16 for Hector Bellerin.
With all that in mind, it is great news that the 21-year-old has seen enough in the Arsenal setup to convince him that North London is where his immediate future lies. Of course, an increase in wages to something approaching £120,000 always helps matters, but it is great to see the show of faith from Bellerin nonetheless.
If nothing else – and with a hefty dose of cynicism – the new contract means that any club that does decide to move for Hector in the near future will require an enormous pot of cash to do so.
Unlike other, more infamous examples in our recent history, the club now has some long-term protections against losing such a talented player for next to nothing.
But it also means that, for the time being at least, questions about Hector and a return to Barcelona – the club from which Arsenal poached him – will be put to bed. They will return, of that you can be sure, but, for now, Hector is a Gunner and he certainly can’t be accused of playing games with the club.
Perhaps this new deal is his way of paying the club back for its own show of faith in him. From the obscurity of the Barcelona youth system to the Spanish national team, Champions League, and Premier League in just a few short years. Arsenal have turned Hector from a promising talent into a star. If this is his way of showing his appreciating for that, we’ll take it.
Some will question the size of the contract. There’s no doubt that £120,000 is a heck of a lot of money for a 21-year-old right back, but it’s difficult to argue with it. Hector knows, as Arsenal do, that he could get that money and more at any number of clubs around Europe these days, so the sensible thing to do was just to give him the money he wanted. Not to do so would have risked seeing him go to City, Barcelona, or PSG – to name but three.
But the fact that we have agreed to commit £120,000 a week to a player many see as key to the club’s future is a promising sign of intent. Couple that with the fact that he is willing to commit himself to the club, and we have all the signs that the unwanted tag of feeder club is at last being removed.
With Hector tied down and settled in London – attentions will turn to the contract situations of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. If the club can get those deals over the finish line, it will prove a huge boon, and a show of faith and belief in the squad that has been sadly lacking over the course of the last decade.
So few players have bought into the long-term vision for the club, and even fewer have decided to stick around to see it come to fruition. Now, with millions in the bank and the squad finally looking competitive again, Arsenal is a different proposition altogether.
Let’s hope that Hector’s decision to sign a new deal is the end of the beginning of a transitional chapter in the club’s long history and that we can finally move forward from a position of strength.
The days when we have had to sell our best and brightest are over.