by Mosope Ominiyi
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has publicly praised the young Guns who have contributed to an impressive finish to the 2014-15 season.
Hector Bellerín was still a rising young talent filled with potential this time last year, and took his chance well on the big stage, impressing in the pre-season Emirates Cup tournament, where he asserted his credentials for a possible place in the first-team regular right-back slot.
The 20-year-old Spaniard took advantage of some unfortunate injuries sustained to experienced signing Mathieu Debuchy, who had started his Arsenal career off well but was ruled out of action for three months in September as well as picking up another nasty injury against Stoke in February.
Bellerín has made the right-back position virtually his own over the past nine months, and for a player of his age, it’s impressive to see the growth and rapid development he’s shown recently.
Speaking of rapid development, Francis Coquelin’s future was all-but-over as an Arsenal player, as he was sent out on loan at Championship side Charlton until January. Due to injuries in midfield, he was recalled and given an opportunity to prove his worth at the club in which he was rumoured to be leaving this summer.
Take the chance, is exactly what he did. He has been one of Arsenal’s best players over the past six months, and has taken up a vital midfield role where the Gunners need balance and stability most.
Mertesacker had this to say: “When you get some young players in and they get time to play, that is unusual for normal seasons but they hit the ground running from the start and you saw the potential. Not only potential, they executed it and that is something you want to see.”
Speaking of players developing through regular first-team experience and establishing themselves as key components in Arséne Wenger’s side, let’s not forget 24-year-old Gabriel Paulista who was signed for £12million in the January transfer window.
Mertesacker will be watching over his shoulder with competition for the centre-back positions set to hot up next season, and the big German will be hoping he is not dropped, which is a real possibility if he does not stay consistent.