Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has been linked with a move to Manchester City this summer, according to The Times. The Spaniard is yet to extend his stay at the Emirates Stadium and is believed to be keen on a move to the Etihad to join up with Pep Guardiola at City.
There is little doubt which position is currently City’s weakest. Pablo Zabaleta isn’t getting any younger and the Argentine international needs replacing soon, with seemingly Bellerin the perfect replacement for him.
Bellerin is a player hungry for success and is currently playing like he has a point to prove at Arsenal. The 21-year-old came into the team following a long-standing injury to Debuchy in 2014 and is yet to relinquish his spot as Wenger’s first choice right-back.
His style of play has been ideal for Wenger as his neat football, tough tackling ability and willingness to attack the opposition’s defence have proved a major success thus far. Like Bellerin, Zabaleta is renowned for his ability to both attack and defend opposition in equal measure, which is something of a rarity in the modern game.
Bellerin was mentored at Arsenal by player Bacary Sagna, who he states has been a major influence on his career as the Frenchman guided Bellerin through his early years at the Emirates Stadium. Like his time at Arsenal, Sagna will be fully aware of Bellerin’s ability to take his first-team place but it’s believed he could be a major influence should Bellerin be offered the chance to move.
Sagna aided Bellerin’s transition from a teenage winger to a superb right-back and taught him in the art of defending during his early years. Now at City, Sagna is the more favourable right-back over Pablo Zabaleta.
Arsenal will be reluctant to depart with their prized young asset and City’s approach for Bellerin was not greeted with much satisfaction…
@City_Watch I'm told Arsenal's response to City's approach for Bellerin consisted of two words – and the second one was off….
— David Anderson (@MirrorAnderson) September 19, 2016
City have been keen to replace Zabaleta after an injury-hit season and his tiring legs are leaving City susceptible defensively. City’s opposition have had some joy attacking down the right-hand side of Guardiola’s team, regardless of who is lining out for the Blues – as seen against Spurs during the last game week.
While the Blues are attempting to ensure the style of play and shape of the team changes under Guardiola, there are evident flaws in the City manager’s system due to the lack of capable personal within the squad. Guardiola’s full-backs have been left exposed against Celtic and Tottenham recently and it’s not the Spanish manager who can be blamed as he seeks a long-term change.
Bellerin’s former club Barcelona are also keen on re-signing him in a similar style Cesc Fabregas was stolen from Arsenal in 2011. Manchester City are hopeful that the 21-year-old’s close relationship with former Arsenal player Mikel Arteta will be decisive. Arteta is now a respected member of Guardiola’s coaching staff and he will also be hopeful that Bellerin makes the jump to Manchester – further increasing the Spanish contingent at the club.
City’s ties are less obvious, but just as strong. The media are reporting that Bellerín would jump at the chance to work with Pep Guardiola, but his relationship with Arsene Wenger may create a long running transfer saga next summer.
At City, the promise of success is widely thrown around the club when they go in pursuit of top players. At Arsenal, it’s now 12 years without a Premier League title and it doesn’t look like ending anytime soon as City, Chelsea, Manchester United and even bitter-rivals Tottenham look to pump money into a considerable title challenge. Arsenal, meanwhile, continue to gamble by signing the likes of the untested Lucas Perez.
Manchester City’s connections with Barcelona make the club and attractive option for Bellerin. He wouldn’t be the first Arsenal player to make the jump North as Samir Nasri, Kolo Toure and Gael Clichy all moved to City from Arsenal. The trio all won league titles when they left Arsenal and it may be enough to persuade Bellerin to move to the Barcelona-esque styled club.
Clearly City need to replace a number of players with an injection of youth, among other things. Guardiola has his work cut out to make City a success but everyone believes he can do just that. The attraction of Guardiola will possibly prove too difficult for Bellerin to turn away, despite his love for Arsenal.
Zabaleta’s status at City is iconic but Bellerin could prove an even greater story than his Spanish-speaking counterpart.