Hector Bellerin has revealed an interesting difference between Arsenal and Barcelona’s training sessions.

  • Arsenal put more emphasis on fitness
  • Premier League physically stronger
  • Bellerin and Toral surprised by lack of ball work early on

The former Barcelona youth player signed for Arsenal in 2011 along with compatriot Jon Toral and instantly the youngsters were confused by the Gunners’ training methods.

Bellerin revealed recently how Arsenal training sessions start off by working on fitness and stamina, before moving onto ball work later in the day.

The Catalans have a different approach.

“My first memory was going on to the training pitches for the first time, and realising nobody had brought any balls out,” Bellerin told Arsenal Magazine (p.14).

“I was speaking to Jon Toral, because we both came over together from Barcelona, and I said, ‘I don’t think they are going to bring any balls out. What are we going to do?’

“Then we found out the morning session was just running – running around the pitch, side to side, and me and Jon were blowing.

“We were thinking, ‘What have we got ourselves into? This is not what we came here to do!’ But then in the afternoon we played some football.

“That was what struck us the most, though. When we were back in Barcelona everything was with the ball, even every single physical activity, it always involved the ball.

“So it was a bit different to us, but by the second session I was one of the last players in the runs anymore, I was one of the first, so you could see the improvement I made physically.”

The Premier League requires players to be a lot stronger and to use their physicality far more often than other leagues, such as La Liga. Therefore, the fact that Arsenal place massive importance on improving this makes sense.

Passing teams like Barca, whose whole ethos is ticka-tacka, pass-and-move football, don’t have to do very much battling for the ball since teams in Spain hardly press.

In England, if players hold onto the ball for as long as they do in La Liga, they get a rather rude awakening.

Just ask Mesut Ozil.