The season is over and we put our heads together at Daily Cannon to try and figure out who the player of the season is.
That didn’t seem like much of a challenge, so we’ve all given in our suggestions and, though there was a clear winner*, we thought we’d give you a 3rd and 2nd place as well.
*you’ll have to wait until Wednesday to find out who – oh, the suspense!
Arsenal player of the season 2016/17
Third place: Héctor Bellerín
It’s hard to believe that Héctor Bellerín is just 21, but he is. This season is even more impressive when you consider the Spaniard was in the first team at the start of the season for the first time in his professional career.
The start of the season sealed Bellerín’s place as first choice, as Mathieu Debuchy struggled to find form. The same couldn’t be said of the then 20-year-old, who delivered week after week.
After dealing well with Eden Hazard and playing so superbly that Memphis was subbed at half-time at the Emirates Stadium, Bellerín’s big test came against Douglas Costa and Bayern Munich.
The first half was a troubling one but, after the break, Héctor showed incredible strength of character to overpower the Brazilian winger, defending superbly and providing us with one of the assists of the campaign.
That incredible pace proved valuable at both ends of the pitch. At Swansea City a few weeks later, Bellerín twice saved Arsenal when attacks from the home side had goal written all over them.
The second superb effort wasn’t needed in the end as the offside flag went up. A shame, as it would’ve given Petr Čech a run for his money for the save of the season award.
An injury curtailed the right-back’s progress heading into the winter. Iffy performances at West Bromwich Albion and Norwich could be put down to his rustiness rather than a lack of ability and, at a young age, blips are still expected.
It’s worth noting that Bellerín then went through a bumpy patch with a mixture of good and not so good performances as he developed an understanding with Joel Campbell, who replaced Aaron Ramsey on the right wing.
Performing against Barcelona, his boyhood club, Bellerín was absolutely superb, once again showcasing his speed off the mark but also his intelligence and awareness. Many more seasons like this and they will surely come knocking for him.
We take Bellerín and his age for granted but he’s only going to get better. His season was capped by being named in the PFA Players’ Team of the Year.
— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) May 13, 2016
Against Spurs, in one of the biggest games of the season, he provided two assists in a 2-2 draw. Given his energy, his speed, and his excellent runs, you could argue that he should have better end product. It’s worth noting, then, that an assist on the final day of the season took Bellerín to eight (in all competitions) for the campaign.
That’s the same number as Barcelona’s Dani Alves, who had Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi, and Neymar to serve. It’s the most an Arsenal fullback has managed in a single season since Bacary Sagna in 2007/08.
To be one of the side’s most reliable players at 21 is nothing short of remarkable, and that’s what Héctor’s become. At this point, you completely forget his age and relative inexperience. That’s nothing but a credit to him. The best is yet to come.