While many 20-year-old players are either out on loan to gain experience, in their team’s youth squad or splitting playing time with a more accomplished teammate, Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin is already very much a key member of the team. The young right back has picked up right where he left off at the end of last season and has been even better to start the current campaign.
Bellerin has been included in manager Arsene Wenger’s starting XI 13 times so far this season. In these 13 matches, the Gunners have only recorded two defeats and have given up multiple goals in only three games. Compare these statistics to the five matches that the Spaniard has missed out on and you’ll get a glimpse of what Bellerin brings to the table.
Whether injury or rest, Bellerin has not been involved in five matches this season. Arsenal has lost four of them and have let in two or more goals in four times, including Bayern Munich’s 5-1 thumping of Arsenal on Wednesday. The only game when the Gunners allowed fewer than two goals in which Bellerin did not play was the 2-1 victory against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup back in September.
The right back will hope to shake off a slight groin injury to be able to feature in the north London derby against Spurs on Sunday, though Wenger stated on Wednesday that Bellerin has only a “small chance” to be fit.
Formerly a Barcelona youth product, Bellerin’s strong suit is undeniably his pace. Whether he is tracking back to make a goal-saving tackle, or stealing the ball off of an opponent and feeding a teammate for a goal, Bellerin is tenacious at both ends of the pitch.
Although his speed certainly receives quite a bit of attention, Bellerin is not just a one-dimensional player. Whoscored.com currently rates the Arsenal defender as the top overall right back in the Premier League this season. Bellerin has racked up more tackles and interceptions in league play than Branislav Ivanovic and Bacary Sagna, and has created more chances on the offensive side than Nathaniel Clyne and Kyle Walker.
Bellerin may not even be in his current position with the club without a string of injuries last season to fellow right back Mathieu Debuchy. The France international was bought from Newcastle in the summer of 2014 and was seen as an automatic replacement for the outgoing Sagna. Nevertheless, Debuchy suffered two long-term injuries, and although Calum Chambers was given a chance to take over at the position, Bellerin grasped the opportunity and did not look back.