Hector Bellerin suffered a considerable setback last night as his highly rated Spain U19 side lost to Germany in their final group game, meaning that they will miss out on this summer’s UEFA European Championships for that age group.
From an Arsenal perspective, however, that result means that Bellerin will be available for the entirety of Arsenal’s pre-season programme, which commences at the end of this month. It could be a pivotal summer for the 19 year old given the current sense of uncertainty surrounding who Arsenal’s two first-team right-backs will be for next season.
With Bacary Sagna set to depart and Carl Jenkinson having been linked with a Premier League loan move, there is a possibility that Bellerin, should he continue to develop well, could be installed as second-choice behind a new signing in that position.
Bellerin has made tremendous progress since sealing his move from Barcelona three years ago, and gained considerable experience of senior football last season during a loan spell with Watford in the Championship. Also capable of operating as a right-winger, Bellerin made his Arsenal first-team debut in the Capital One Cup victory over West Bromwich Albion last September and was named on the bench in the Premier League later in the campaign.
Up until about a year ago serious concerns existed about Bellerin’s defensive capabilities, but his time at Watford appears to have helped iron out those flaws and, when his attacking attributes are taken into account, the Spaniard is a major prospect for the future.
Whether next season will be too early for him to be a key member of the first-team squad remains to be seen. The ideal scenario would be for the club to acquire a senior right-back with whom Bellerin could work with and learn from. Having featured 29 times for the U21 team, Bellerin has already learned much from second-string football and, as he begins to prepare for pre-season, will now be hopeful of making the next step in his progression.