Verging upon the final two-and-a-half years of his current terms and having become arguably the best right-back in the Premier League since emerging as an Arsenal regular in 2014, Bellerin’s future in north London has been the subject of much debate in recent weeks.
Indeed, a star-studded return to Barcelona, where the Spain international received his footballing education at La Masia, has been long-speculated in the tabloids. Since the summer, the Catalans have been linked again by the Spanish press, whilst The Daily Mail reported on Manchester City’s alleged plans for an audacious transfer swoop in September.
Very much so. Rumours of an improved deal have circulated for some time. The Times reported on a £100k per-week offer being tabled at the start of October, and team-mate Santi Cazorla and manager Arsene Wenger have both since commented on the importance of securing the 21-year-old’s future.
The Guardian now suggest Bellerin is close as he’s ever been to signing a bumper contract at the Emirates Stadium, following productive talks between his agent and the club’s hierarchy. Representative Albert Botines was in London last week and after said negotiations, even found time to lay on a few quotes for The Guardian.
As quoted by the broadsheet, Boitnes said…
“We are speaking and are now a lot closer than we were two weeks ago. In a normal situation he will sign. Héctor is very happy at Arsenal. This would be the fourth time he has signed a new contract at the club and it is clear he has made good progress.”
In a nutshell, very. There’s a reason he claimed a place in last season’s PFA Team of the Year and was deemed the world’s most valuable defender by CIES Football Observatory during the summer. Indeed, although his defensive game still requires maturity, the Spaniard is a real force going forward, producing the third-highest return of successful dribbles per match by any Premier League right-back this season, as shown above (courtesy of Whoscored).
Most importantly, the attacking flair and width Bellerin provides has allowed Theo Walcott to play more as an inside forward this season, sometimes almost operating as Alexis Sanchez’ strike partner, and the England international is enjoying one of his best Arsenal campaigns to date, with eight goals across all competitions already.