Yesterday we brought you some snippets from a Hector Bellerin interview with El Mundo Deportivo in which he spoke about interest from Barcelona among other things.
Today the full interview is published, and here’s a transcript of it. You can see that the line of questioning is quite leading at times, as you’d expect from a Barcelona friendly newspaper.
How’s the season going at Arsenal?
For me it’s been a bit hard this season, because of the injuries I haven’t hgad the same continuity as last year. And the club have had a difficult few weeks, especially after the two defeats to Bayern Munich. There’s been a lot of disturbance among the fans, the manager and everything that’s happening.
They haven’t been easy weeks, but when we get back from the Internationals we have to get back down to work.
The elimination by Bayern had a significant impact?
Bellerin: It was difficult, because if you look at the two first halves of the games, we did very well 1-1 and 1-0, and after the second halves we let ourselves down completely. The good thing about football is that you have another game in two or three days and you can regroup.
Now, when we come back, we have two very important months, and we have to move ahead.
Have you understood what brought about such a big fall?
In the second game the red card and the penalty brought down all our plans. And in the match in Munich we just didn’t measure up, above all in the second half. We have to know that we have to keep a high level for the whole 90 minutes.
The big debate in London is what is going to happen with Arsene Wenger? What do the players think?
We know the same as the rest of the people. For three or four years people have been speculating and asking the question, but we’ll see at the end of the season. We have a lot of respect for him and what he has done during 21 years will be very difficult to equal.
For me, I would like him to stay, because I have a lot of appreciation and he has given me a lot.
In your case, when he bet on you as a youngster, Wenger not continuing as manager would liberate you if you decided to leave Arsenal?
He is a person in whom I have a lot of respect, and I owe him a lot, because he gambled on me and trusted me from the first minute. Loyalty to that person is worth more than money or anything else. It is very important for me, that he is there carries a lot of weight for me.
How much of who Bellerin is today is thanks to Wenger?
‘Bellerin’ is down to many people and many teams. I spent eight years at Barcelona, this is a base from which to learn football, which is not learned elsewhere, like the months I was given at Watford with Zola.
And it’s clear that the coach who gives you an opportunity to debut, who has the bravery to put you in team as an 18 year old to play at Borussia has played a larger role in where I am today.
How many times have you been asked if you’re going to come back to Barcelona.
They always ask me if I’m going to come back to Barca. And I always say that I’m very happy at Arsenal. I’ve been here for 6 seasons, I’m very happy and trying to do better in every game.
But you’re aware of the interest from Barca, who have been to see you play live various teams?
Yes, and any player would be flattered by the interest of Barcelona, it’s the best club in the world – or one of the best – so this is very nice. The fact that I grew up in the Barca academy makes is that bit special for me. But I have to focus on the club I’m at now and the games we have ahead, the rest will come later.
Would you like to come back to Barcelona?
When I left, my intention was never to come back, because my departure was a bit difficult to take. Other players leave saying that they want to return one day but I left to live an experience in England, to learn, to try to be a footballer and not return. What the future holds, you just don’t know and you can’t close any doors.
I respect the club I’m at now, I have great love for the Arsenal, and for everything they’ve given me.
Over time, do you see it differently from leaving never to return?
In football you never know, the interest and all that is very nice, but there’s still a lot to do to finish this season, and there could be many changes at Arsenal still. There’s uncertainty in many things, I have to focus on my work, I still have a lot to learn.
But your style would see you fit in at Barca with no problems …
After all, being in La Masia and the academy of Barcelona, you learn the Barca philosophy which goes from the youth levels to the first team. Even with the national team, there are a lot of Barcelona players, and it’s a universal system.
Many people are not in favour of paying a large transfer fee for a player who left the academy.
Everyone has to choose their path. It is very difficult to get from the youth team to the first team, very few people have succeeded. I made the decision to leave, I went to Arsenal and I’m not sorry about it. I’m very happy with the decision I took, even if now there are rumours of a possible return.
Maybe if I had stayed I wouldn’t be the same, so I’m very happy I made that move, with everything I’ve learned and experienced in these six years. What the future holds remains to be seen.
Also, you’ve been linked with Manchester City? Is there anything going on in that respect?
I know that there has been interest from Man City, and it’s flattering that a coach like Guardiola sees you in his ranks. That motivates me even more, it’s a sign that things are going well but I still have a long way to go and I have to improve further.
It’s been said that you’d rather go to City before coming back to Barcelona.
This is just not true, I never said this. For a start I would never speak about these things because of my respect for Arsenal. I would never speak about other teams.
Would the fact that Mikel Arteta is there influence you?
Mikel is a really honest person, he never tried to take me there. He knows what’s best for me. Arteta is very special to me, he’s been like a second father, he helped me a lot when I arrived arrived at Arsenal, on and off the pitch. I have a lot of love and respect for him.
Finally, where do you see yourself next season?
For now I’m happy where I am, focused on finishing the season for the U21s and at Arsenal, and later what will come, will come.