I know, I know.
It’s very premature to be asking that question when Mathieu Debuchy only signed for us last summer and, due to injuries, has yet to make fifteen appearances for us.
However, due to those ridiculously unfortunate injuries- if you can count a player deliberately pushing you off the pitch whilst you’re in mid air to be misfortune rather than assault – we have seen the emergence of Hector Bellerin.
I realise it’s early days for Bellerin, who has only just made appearance number 15 for us, but I think he’s one of the most exciting prospects to have emerged into the first team for some time.
Hector, or, as I like to refer to him, “‘ECTOR!”, has been at the club since 2011 but it is only in the last few months that he has begun to make his presence known.
For the majority of Arsenal fans, the first time Bellerin would have come to prominence would have been in this season’s Emirates Cup.
I remember seeing him surrounded, out on the right touchline, by a posse of players yet somehow emerging with the ball. Never one to read too much into a particular moment, I thought, “Aha! Here is someone with touch, speed, composure and who thinks very quickly.” Or something like that.
After a difficult debut at Borussia Dortmund- Arsene does love throwing his boys in at the deep end, doesn’t he?- I think the young Spaniard has shown all these qualities and more during his time with the first team.
Against Aston Villa, he even registered his first senior goal; a low drive from the edge of the box, a rare sight indeed from an Arsenal full back these days. We can all see that he can cross and is so quick that the one thing Theo had over the rest of the squad, his sprint-king title, has been taken away from him.
In one way, Bellerin’s development reminds me a little of Serge Gnabry last season. Both of them had quiet debuts but given the repeated opportunity to impress have taken that chance with both hands.
This is in marked contrast, I think, to the situation which Carl Jenkinson found himself in in 2011/12 when Bacary Sagna broke his leg and Carl was required to deputise. Try as he undoubtedly did, he just wasn’t ready to do so.
In fairness, he did acquit himself a little better when Sagna was unlucky enough to suffer yet another leg break towards the end of that season. However, it’s difficult not to look at Jenkinson’s initial struggles, compare them to the way Bellerin has adapted to the first team and see exactly why Carl is currently on loan with West Ham whilst Hector has a peg in Arsenal’s first team dressing room.
To come back to where I started, though, is Bellerin ready to end Mathieu Debuchy’s brief Arsenal career?
As excited as I am by the Spaniard, I would have to say that I think it’s very unlikely Debuchy will be going anywhere just yet.
For one thing, he’s only been here five minutes.
For another, he’s a France international and for yet one more thing, he is absolutely the kind of guy would want alongside you in a battle.
For example, it’s difficult to imagine Debuchy being rattled to the point of being substituted at half time in an away game at Stoke. In case you have forgotten, this is what happened to Bellerin when we visited the Orcs earlier this season.
As we all know only too well, what happened to Bellerin at Stoke can happen to young footballers at any time.
We have also seen in Debuchy that he can adapt as well as fight. His performance at centre back against Liverpool before Christmas proved that.
Debuchy is exactly the kind of character you would want if you’re serious about winning titles. I haven’t seen enough of him to know whether he has their kind of quality, but I can imagine that the likes of Stevie Bould and Tony Adams would have been more than happy to look across to their right and see a guy like Debuchy there.
Debuchy, who is now- thankfully- back in training, will be 30 when the 2015 season kicks off.
It strikes me that he is going to be the Arsenal right back, injuries permitting, for a couple of seasons at least. But I don’t think he’ll be resting on his laurels, phoning in the kind of performances that once made Emmanuel Eboue a pariah in these parts.
With the jet heeled graduate of La Masia breathing down his neck, he’d be silly to.
As in most other areas of the squad, we’re going to be watching a very interesting competition develop over the next few months.
Let the battle begin!