Bacary Sagna thinks Hector Bellerin probably felt like a change, to challenge himself, after so many years playing for Arsenal.

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Arsenal’s Spanish defender Hector Bellerin (C) runs with the ball during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg football match between SL Benfica and Arsenal at the Olimpico stadium in Rome on February 18, 2021. (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Hector Bellerin has wanted to leave Arsenal for over a year, something that was exacerbated when he lost his status as the club’s first-choice right-back to Cedric Soares and Calum Chambers.

On deadline day, Arsenal confirmed that Bellerin had left the club for the season on loan, joining his boyhood club, Real Betis.

Bacary Sagna can empathise with the decision Bellerin made, suggesting he was in a similar position himself before his departure from Arsenal.

“Hector has been there for years,” Sagna said a few months back. “He started playing not long after I left, so he has been in the team for like six years.

“And a bit like I felt, he probably feels that he wants to challenge himself because he has been there for a long time.

“It’s nothing to do with the club, nothing to do with winning cups or whatever. At some point, if you want to progress, in my mind you need to go somewhere and challenge yourself and start from zero again. This is how I felt.”

In fact, Bellerin has been with Arsenal for 10 years now, though it’s only six-and-a-half since he made his first-team debut for the club. That does put him in a pretty similar situation to Sagna, who left after seven years in North London.