by Matthew Wade
Continuing our interview with Nacho Monreal, the Spaniard discussed our two emergent stars, Francis Coquelin and Hector Bellerin.
Unsurprisingly for such a humble, team-focused player, he was effusive about both of them, starting with our French ‘policeman’, when asked about the impact of Coquelin’s return from loan:
“…I think it was the best thing in the club (laughs). This is football…look how it changed. He was a player who was playing for a while in Charlton. In the beginning, nobody wants him (in the team), and in this moment, Mikel Arteta got injured, Abou Diaby the same and it was only Flamini…and he came back, but I think he came back not to play – just to be on the bench…For me he has been the best player because he has played over 20 games, top every single game, and I think he will be a very important player for Arsenal’s season. He was amazing.”
He was equally animated when praising his new full-back partner, Bellerin:
“Hector the same. He made a really really good pre-season – he was amazing in the pre-season…and…football! (laughs) This is football, because in the beginning he was the third (choice) right back…at the start of the season, he was the third. Because there is Callum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy…Mathieu Debuchy was injured, Chambers the same…he played, and he did amazing.
“And afterwards when Chambers and Debuchy was fit, he didn’t play, because Hector was playing amazing. And he is REALLY young! It’s crazy – I remember, now I am 29, I cannot believe it, but I remember when I was 20, I played for Osasuna- it’s no comparison, Osasuna with Arsenal – I was scared. (laughs) I was scared every single game. When I started to play, I was scared. At 20, he is playing for one of the best clubs in the world and he looks good.”
Apart from the obvious observation that Nacho really likes the word ‘amazing’, it was very enjoyable seeing the excitement that he has when talking about his team-mates, and the impassioned sincerity he had when praising them. Certainly, it seems that all the players massively appreciate our two breakthrough stars, and Coquelin in particular has been hailed in almost every other interview that any player has made over the last two or three months.
As far as Lazarus like about-turns go, the return of Le Coq seems to have been the most impressive at the club in years, and is particularly gratifying for the significant numbers of us who, having seen him in the u-18s, were left wondering why he wasn’t getting more opportunities, and particularly why the hell Freiberg were playing him on the left wing when on loan there.
As for Bellerin, quite apart from the rapid acceleration in his already impressive development, who doesn’t love a talented young spaniard who sounds like a London geezer and blows off Barcelona interest twice in the week he’s linked as a Dani Alves replacement?
They may not be from North London, but they are two of our own.