This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Amid all the talk of incomings and outgoings this summer at Arsenal, one man who was seemingly certain to be there by the end of the transfer window was the club captain. Instead, Laurent Koscienly’s refusal to go on the pre-season tour of the USA came out of left-field and has left the north London side reeling by the impact of his actions.
Reports have since claimed that Unai Emery was furious with the Frenchman’s decision and the club are now understood to be taking disciplinary measures against their captain. However, that description of Koscielny as a ‘captain’ may be coming to an abrupt end, and it appears inevitable that the Gunners will strip the veteran of the armband given Emery’s feelings on the matter.
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But following the releases of both Aaron Ramsey and Petr Cech, the number of potential candidates for the job has already dwindled. Granit Xhaka and Sokratis have their plaudits, but one man who has been through thick and thin with the Gunners and could be a perfect fit is the side’s ‘Spanish-Cockney‘ hybrid, Hector Bellerin.
Gone are the days when the captain’s remit was getting in teammates’ faces, riling them up and giving them a kick up the backside when needed. The modern-day captain must lead by example both on and off the pitch and command respect through his actions, not his bawling.
Step forward, Bellerin. The Barcelona youth product joined Arsenal in the summer of 2011 and made his competitive debut for the club in September 2013. Since then, the right-back has gone through enough ups and downs to last most footballers’ lifetimes. A rapid rise, a period of stagnation, turned on by the club’s own fans, fighting back to his old form and then devastated by a long-term injury.
When he does play, he is one of the side’s greatest attacking outlets, racking up 24 assists for the Gunners so far.
It has been quite the rollercoaster journey for Bellerin at Arsenal, but one thing that has remained a constant is his incredible professionalism and humility. The 24-year-old is publicly outspoken in his calls for social and gender equality and has been a proponent of environmental rights too.
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The Spain international is a class act and as he approaches almost a decade of service for the north Londoners, his contributions make him the outstanding candidate to be the next captain.
He encapsulates the very best of the modern Arsenal. Slick and attacking on the pitch, and respectful and generous off it. It’s hard to imagine someone other than Bellerin in the current squad who bleeds more red and white and who is more deserving of the armband.