Arsenal: Bellerin contract; Draxler could leave Wolfsburg; Gunners trio on UEFA shortlist
Arsenal fans received their best news of November thus far yesterday when it was confirmed that Hector Bellerin has signed a new six and a half year deal at the club. The 21-year-old has been linked with a return to Barcelona or a move to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. However, those stories have been laid to rest by the signing of this contract. Bellerin is currently out with an ankle injury and was sorely missed by Arsene Wenger at Old Trafford on Saturday. The Spaniard provides a real outlet on the right flank; Carl Jenkinson rarely got forward against Manchester United which in turn affected Theo Walcott’s role in the game. On top of his offensive contribution, Bellerin’s pace is also a tremendous insurance policy defensively because of his recovery runs. Wenger said:
“He has integrated the values that are important and also, because he is a carrier of the values that are important for the club, I think he will be one of the strong members of this club in the future.
“He has a fantastic mentality and Arsenal has been fantastic for Hector as well because he went through some difficult moments in his career and we kept always faith in him. On that front, Hector was loyal and envisages his career here and I think it’s a fantastic move for Hector and for the club. Both are winners in this deal.”
Bellerin established himself as Arsenal’s first-choice right back mid way through the 2014-15 season, when Mathieu Debuchy suffered first an ankle ligament injury and then a dislocated shoulder. The Frenchman started his Arsenal career quite promisingly, but those two injuries in his first season stunted it. Bellerin took his opportunity fantastically, surviving a horrendous debut away at Borussia Dortmund. Clearly, he is an extremely intelligent boy because he improved rapidly and seemed to absorb all the information his coaches were giving him. He is probably the most valuable full back in world football currently, so to have him signed up for the foreseeable future is a major positive for Arsenal.
Elsewhere, Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs has said that the German club might be willing to sell star man Julian Draxler if another offer comes in for him. Wolfsburg turned down turned down a significant offer from PSG for the German international in the summer. Arsenal were first lined with Draxler in January 2014 and Wenger has remained an admirer of his ever since. In that window, there was talk that he wanted to convert Draxler into a central striker in the same vein as Robin van Persie. Arsenal are a little short in the left-forward position with Alex Iwobi sill only 20, and central midfielder Aaron Ramsey filling that spot.
Finally, Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny have made the 40-man shortlist for UEFA’s Team of the Year. Ramsey and Koscielny excelled in last summer’s European Championship, but it is a surprise not to see Mesut Ozil in the running for this award. Wenger has always poured scorn on the idea of individual recognition in a team sport such as football, so don’t expect much in the way of comment from the Arsenal boss in his pre-PSG press conference.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal
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