Almost six months after Hector Bellerin was linked with a £40m move to Barcelona, we look at whether insisting he stayed at Arsenal was such a good idea after all.
When Bellerin signed a new six-year deal with Arsenal in November 2016, I don’t know a single Gooner who wasn’t thrilled but, in his current form, was it worth it?
What’s more, should we have kept him despite Barcelona trying to sign him for £40m during the summer?
When the right-back broke into the first team in 2014 after Mathieu Debuchy suffered an ankle injury and Calum Chambers, whom we had only just signed from Southampton, picked up an illness, most of us expected the speedy Spaniard to step in for just a few weeks.
Bellerin had only signed for Arsenal from Barcelona’s B-team in 2011 and we understood that he needed time to develop. He had only just returned from a season on loan at Watford, for goodness sake.
However, the teenager kept his place in the first team, making 20 Premier League appearances that term. Bellerin quickly become Arsene Wenger’s first choice right-back and signed a six-year deal a couple of years later.
That six-year deal, which saw the 22-year-old’s wages rise to a reported £100k-per-week, is one of the factors that prevented Barca from being able to sign their former defender over the summer.
As they had done with Cesc Fabregas, the Catalans allowed Wenger to develop a young player they couldn’t be bothered to dedicate time to, before returning to reap the rewards.
The La Liga giants’ campaign to sign Bellerin came complete with mentions of Barca DNA and Catalonia being his home but most of us assumed that, unlike Cesc, Bellerin was happy in London. He had bedded in, especially with the English players, and we thought he was different.
However, as the summer rolled on and quotes emerged from people close to him, it became clear that Bellerin would quite like to sign for Barcelona despite previously saying he wouldn’t.
“I was lucky enough to take a chance on Arsenal,” Bellerin said in an interview over the summer. “Things have gone well and now hearing this type of news about Barca is something which makes me happy, but it doesn’t depend on me.
“It’s nice to know of interest from a club like Barca, the club where I grew up from a young age. For the moment I don’t know anything, I’m an Arsenal player and we will see what happens.”
Wenger obviously brushed off any rumoured interest, even though Barca were said to be willing to sign him for £40m.
So should Arsenal have cashed in? Hit next to find out.