Hector Bellerin rise to fame at Arsenal was sudden and the youngster has grown from leaps and bounds since making his debut for Arsenal in 2014.
He has revealed that he was a bit frustrated when Arsenal told him they wanted him as a right-back – because he’d been playing as a winger and quite liked it in attack.
Out for the next six weeks with an ankle injury, the Spaniard looks set to sign a new bumper deal to keep him at Arsenal for the foreseeable future. That it will happen while also annoying Barceona, is even sweeter.
In an interview with Sarah Shepard and Sport, Hector said, “It’s true, when I was at Barcelona I played as a winger. It was only in my last one or two years there that I played a few games at right-back – not more than five. But at one of them there was an Arsenal scout and they said: ‘Okay, this guy has to be a right-back.’ When Arsenal told me at the beginning, I was a bit frustrated – you know, thinking I like to be an attacker.
But soon I realised what their vision was for me, and how they saw me as a right-back. In the beginning, learning a new position is not easy. But I’m feeling comfortable now. I’m really happy with whoever’s idea that was, because maybe if I was still a winger I wouldn’t be where I am.
“At the beginning, Steve Bould was the key because I was playing for the under-18s and under-21s when I first came to Arsenal [the Arsenal assistant manager was then head coach of the club’s under-18s]. He told me: ‘Hector, you’re alright going forward, so I don’t want to touch anything there. But defensively you’ve got to work a lot.’ The stuff I learned in just one season with him was crazy. Once you have the basics in your head, you just have to put it into practice. Since then, every coach I’ve had has helped me to become a better player.
“I’m very happy that people are seeing the work I’m doing is paying off. I don’t feel like the young kid any more. For a while, I was just that young right-back playing for Arsenal. Now people know the way I play. There’s a lot to improve still, though. But playing with such good players and the way we play makes everyone look good, I think.”
It’s no surprise to see a host of clubs interested in Bellerin’s signature but unlike Cesc Fabregas, he has never spoken about a desire to return to Barcelona, quite the opposite really. Fabregas never hid his desire to return, Bellerin has frequently said if he wanted to be at Barcelona, he wouldn’t have left in the first place.
Long may it last.