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October 2016
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Ah… the smell of a freshly signed contract

By Walter Broeckx

A bit of news that went a bit under the radar (well for me it was but that could have been because of other things on my mind and so initially missing it) is the fact that we signed a player.

Signed, sealed and delivered and he is ours as the old song goes (more or less). No it is no new player. It is Hector Bellerin.

But he is not just a player that has signed a new contract. No for me it is a statement. And in a way a moment that can make me say: told you so. Just as Tony was right in the end with Coquelin as he has been singing his praise from the start, I have been doing the same from the first second I saw Bellerin at Arsenal.

I don’t know why I did it at the time but when the news that he and Jon Toral were joining Arsenal at youth level a few years ago I went on the internet and became a youtube scout. Because there were a few clips with youth matches from Barcelona and with the focus on Bellerin more in particular in those matches.

What I saw in those clips made me hungry. Hungry for more of Hector Bellerin. I just had the feeling that he could turn into a special player. A great player. And I was happy that he had decided to leave Spain and Barcelona and put his future in the hands of Arsenal and Arsène. We know that any young player in the hands of Wenger has a good chance to make it. But of course in the end it is down to the player and his attitude to decide if he really will make it.

So almost 2 years ago when we played at Dortmund I went to the Youth league match that was played in the afternoon before the big boys. I saw Hector play in the flesh and my expectation became bigger and bigger. Yes, this was a talent that we would love to see in the first team.

Little did either of us know that only 12 months later he would be in the match with the big boys in the same city, Dortmund. He struggled in that match but so did the whole team. But he showed great character and didn’t let that little set back get under his skin too much.

You have to be lucky at times when you are at the start of your career. And the unfortunates events and injuries of Mathieu Debuchy became the lucky time for Hector. Without the injuries to Debuchy we wouldn’t have seen Bellerin probably up to now.

Bellerin got his chance and he took it with both hands (or should I say feet?). He became better and better and better and now nobody looks surprised if Wenger picks Bellerin for the right back spot even if Debuchy is fit.

Bellerin is fast, can defend, can attack, can score a few goals and give good crosses. Bellerin scored two goals in his opening season in 28 matches he was involved. Sagna played 40 matches in his first season and scored one goal. The fact that in his younger years he also played in every role on the right flank and also as a striker will have contributed to his goal scoring actions.

So I wasn’t bothered at all with Sagna going away. In fact I was hoping that we would buy nobody and just give Bellerin his chance. Wenger went out to buy Debuchy an older and experienced player. I could live with that as I thought it was just a way of giving Hector the chance to grow slowly in to his role. Don’t throw him in the deep from the first moment seems to be what Wenger was thinking. Injuries to Debuchy made it different as we all know now.

And now with Bellerin committing his long term future to Arsenal (with in mind the thought that contracts are no longer what they used to be…) But Hector seems to be a young man with not only great feet but also with a good head on his shoulders. He knows that he can even grow at Arsenal. I have always compared him with Danni Alves from Barcelona. One of the best and most attacking right backs of modern football history. Bellerin can become as good if not even become better.

I think Hector also wants to reward Wenger for the trust he has received from the manager. Maybe Wenger didn’t think he was completely ready at the start of the season but he got his chance to impress and took it. And then injuries did the rest and gave him the chance to step up.

On manager Arsène Wenger has his say on Hector and Wenger said: “His progress has been huge because if you had asked me that question last year, exactly on the same day, I would not have guaranteed you that Bellerin would be a regular player in the club by the end of the season, but he managed to do it,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

Arsène Wenger also said the following: “He’s a very serious, mature boy. I met him when he was 15… and I could see straight away that there was something special on the hunger side, on the desire and maturity side. He was a very mature boy very early.

“I expect him to continue to develop [in the new season],” added Wenger. “I expect him to confirm all the good aspects of his game that he has shown, and to accept that he has a tough challenge with Debuchy.

“Mathieu is a guy who has always shown unbelievable mental strength and has top quality. He’s a regular player in the French national team so Hector cannot rest. He has a big battle to face.

“I will use Calum Chambers more as a central defender but he can also help out at right back as well.”

And this shows for me that Wenger is as usual a few steps in front of the media. And so he knew the potential, trusted on Bellerin to come in to the team at one stage. But even for Wenger it was a surprise to see just how good he already was at the highest level.

I expected Hector to be a sensational right back and to be good enough. But still the last hurdle is sometimes the most difficult one but he took it well and improved his game in each and every match.

Great to see another youngster making it in to the first team and making a loyalty claim in favour if Arsenal.


We’re on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

Anniversary of the day:

22 July 2006: The Emirates Stadium opened with the Dennis Bergkamp testimonial,  Dennis’ father kicked off the match.  Dennis had played 423 games for Arsenal, and was part of both Arsène Wenger’s two Doubles and the Unbeaten Season.

All the pre-seasons across the Wenger Years are on the Arsenal History Society site



19 comments to Ah… the smell of a freshly signed contract

  • nicky

    I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Bellerin…..from rags to riches (in footballing terms). Sadly it happens so rarely.
    I trust it will give hope to those youngsters on the books of Arsenal FC, who yearn for a similar chance to come their way. 😉

  • para

    It seems more likely to happen at Arsenal though. 🙂
    Let’s hope we get more youth coming through and making it this new season too.

  • Joe

    Having a record like Mr Wenger has young players trust their future with such a manager and older, and super stars players want to play and learn under his management it will be a sad day when he retires.

  • Mick

    The best thing to have happened to Bellerin is that he signed for Arsenal and not Chelsea or Man City. He never would have got the chance to step up to the first team at either of those clubs, both of them graveyards for young talented players.

  • Pete

    Hear, hear Walter.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Am looking forward to one or two of our own younglings to step up in the new season .

  • TailGunner

    Yes a very good signing who only came to Arsenal as a make weight in the sale of Fàbregas to RM. People say we were cheated on that deal, but looks like we got the best value.
    I see Flamini is about to leave.

  • TailGunner

    Fabregas to Barca

  • apo Armani

    Excellent article about the Gems we actually do have and promote to the highest level !!

    But I thought the super news of the day (see BBC) is that Rooney will play as a central striker!!! Now I can stay off the Lexotanils 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • rich

    Fascinating thing for me is to watch the impact of operating from a position of strength as a club. It’s enjoyable, and it really underlines how challenging the period before this was.

    Gibbs performance caught my eye in the last match. He looked like a man determined to put up a great fight against a strong rival for his spot. Specifically, he’s a man who now has about 200 games under his belt at a high level and is hitting his peak years as a footballer, battling against a high calibre rival.

    It’s pretty much the exact point we were tending to lose our players -Flamini, Adebayor, Hleb, Song, Clichy, Nasri, Fabregas- at : mid-twenties, right at the point they should be able to take advantage of what they’d learned from a number of years at the top level.

    Even better, now, is that we have this strong competition in every area. In theory and more often than not in practice this can only make a player better. Before we were losing these players and tended not to have someone as strong to step into that spot

    The final factor, and probably the most important of all, is that good players tend to go up to new heights when playing with similarly good or even better players (the downside of that is that it offers some justification to the actions of the snakes, including the chief one with his little boy inside him).

    So there we have it: players being pushed everywhere by strong competition; the team-building process not being disrupted by the departure of key players who are hitting their peak, allowing us to receive the benefits of the experience those players have gained; and all this supplemented by a few special additions, increasing competition and quality and acting as a spur for everyone to improve their game. And still enough room, and a willingness form the manager, to allow exceptional youngsters their shot.

    Aye, it’s a positive picture all right

    Again, it’s hat’s off time for a manager who had the resilience and patience to navigate that tougher period, when so few of the things conducive to ultimate success were possible.

  • Gord


    I believe news articles started coming out yesterday, that Real Madrid wanted to sign the Arsenal scout who originally brought Fabregas to Arsenal.

  • Gord

    Of course, we have the Emirates Cup starting on Saturday, along with the obligatory actions on the public transit it seems.

    The day before (Friday), a mixed U18/U21 squad will take on Boreham Wood at Meadow Park, more info on the main Arsenal website.

    The day before (Thursday), the Ladies are taking on Watford in the Continental Tyres Cup. Arsenal is home, which would imply that game is also at Meadow Park. Presumably news from the Ladies will be on the Arsenal website soon. The BBC has a blurb about this cup in general.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great news on Bellerin signing. Impressed with the situation with our backs, we have both predominantly attacking as well as defensive backs on both sides, Gibbs and Bellerin in games when we are on the attack, Debuchy and Monreal when we need to be more careful. I am now putting Chambers as a very fine Cd prospect.
    On another note, we are about to see why there was such a media wankfest over Benteke. I read a few articles before the Cup final, thought we were facing Pele.

  • Gord

    Another Benik Afobe?

    McCarthy (at Wolves) is in the news, with some good things to say about Maitland-Niles: two goals in 2 games.

    > “He’s a very good player,” the Town boss enthused. “Arsenal do have that happy knack of producing some fabulous kids and I think we’ve got one of them.”

  • Gord

    Scudamore is in the news talking about home quotas and the EPL.

    Let’s take goalkeeping, seeing as the scum have clued into that today.

    The medja try to create a problem if a national team player is spending time on the bench. And we have seen this with Szczesny. Apparently Szczesny’s father is more than willing to help in creating this problem, which has been a source of friction. No, sitting on the bench is not fun.

    But I really don’t believe Arsenal fans are creating problems because Szczesny is on the bench. Nor do I think that fans of Poland are necessarily creating problems for the same reason, although they would have more reason to.

    The national team (Poland in this situation) would have the biggest reason, but they also have the most intelligent people to evaluate the situation, and I don’t think they ever have.

    Just because a player is named a substitute, and doesn’t play in the game, doesn’t mean they did not get exposed to useful experiences and training. I am sure that Szczesny gets a regular presentation of extremely hard to stop shots from his team mates in practice, because they are capable of making those shots. They are in training maybe 5 days a week? Those sessions probably are longer than 90 minutes. Missing the 90 minute game is not that much of a bother. People had been saying that Cech is the much better goaltender. Does any of his knowledge come out in training and make its way to Szczesny?

    The biggest potential difference for me, is that in practice (training), there is a significantly reduced chance of getting injured. And players do need time in situations where getting injured can happen, so that they react to minimize getting injured (not act, that takes conscious effort).

    I think automation is going to come into football more. Many of us have seen robotic machines for golf, they can consistently hit balls all day long, and more or less put them in the same spot every time. There is no reason that technology couldn’t be in football. A goaltender could come in and spend as much time as he/she wanted to, just trying to stop shots. They could even be all the same shot.

    I don’t know how automated Arsenal is. But, if any manager is going to be first to install something, I would put Wenger near the top of the list.

    Wenger: Wojciech Szczęsny, let me introduce you to our new penalty taking machine. It’s name is Lothar Matthäus. Unlike the real Matthäus, this one can put a penalty just off the post or crossbar at 120 mph. Consistently. In fact, you can tell him where you want that ball, and he hits the target every time. And he doesn’t get tired (big smile on face).

    And Scudamore is fielding questions about English players in the top-10 of the EPL being lacking in playing time, or number of players.

    In terms of the Scudamore interview, they bring up Fabregas in terms of home grown or not. I think it was perfectly reasonable to count Fabregas as home grown at Arsenal, because they grew him. And then his DNA pulled him back to Spain, before him came back to play for the boring one. I disagree that Fabregas should be consider home grown for Chelsea. If Chelsea would have bought him, sure keep him as home grown. He want back to foreign play, and then came back to England. Maybe you credit him as “half” home grown.

    > ” … I think you will see a new type of footballer which isn’t just about the old English traditions of run hard and work hard.”

    Scudamore doesn’t know his traditions. He missed the kick anything that moves, punching and two foot tackles.

  • Gord

    Metro has a big article for a small table, what regions of the UK watch what football teams on TV. Arsenal wins London by a long shot.

  • dan

    Bellerinthe next superstar.

  • C4

    How long before Barca pop up with a DNA analysis of Bellerin?