Ahh, that sweet, sweet smell of fresh ink on a key Arsenal players contract. Smells good, doesn’t it?
I know we’re all waiting with baited breath on Özil and Alexis to commit their long futures to the club, but the fact that Hector Bellerin has also put pay to the rumours that both City and Barca were sniffing around him by signing a new long-term deal, means that we get a bit of joy as the days get longer and in England rainier.
It’s fantastic news. It’s another statement by the club that it can compete with the biggest financial powers in football and also sends the vultures scattering, looking for another right-back carcass to feast on.
Hector has been a revelation since establishing himself in the first team. His speed and connection with Theo this season has been great, his ability to cover his colleagues and win last-ditch tackles has been awesome, and by the sounds of things he’s a really positive influence around the club too. He comes across as such a nice guy and to have lost him to some of the club’s who like to slosh around their cash would have been a blow.
But the reality is – if you believe all we’ve heard – that Hector never really wanted to leave and the club never really wanted to sell. I’ve heard a few journos on the radio speak about the City and Pep interest in Bellerin, but in the same breath I’ve heard those journalists say that Arsenal aren’t minded to let him go anyway. He still had three years on his deal and I think Arsenal were comfortable with that.
Having said that however, I think Arsenal played this particular contract situation perfectly, because we never really looked to be under any pressure with him getting a new deal. The club and the player could take their time, get all the details ironed out, then announce when ready.
If you think about the situation with Alexis and Özil though, it becomes a different kettle of fish, because come the end of the season there is a very real danger that we get into RvP territory. None of us wants that. Özil sounds like he’s the more likely to be willing to sign up first, which would be great if it could happen within the next few weeks, but I have a nasty feeling about Alexis.
But hey, let’s not let today’s blog be about any kind of negativity, shall we? Because we’ve had some great news and it means that we’ll see a lot more of Bellerin for the years to come. It’s a mark of his rise that United used his absence at the back to target Jenkinson and whilst the Englishman did well as Bellerin’s deputy, we’ll all be glad to see Hector bombing down the line again towards the end of this year when he’s fit.
There will of course be questions to be answered by both him and Arsenal in a few years time, as he’ll be in his mid-twenties by the time we have to start negotiating again, but I’m taking comfort in the fact that Bellerin’s behaviour hasn’t been anything like somebody like Fabregas. The second Fabregas got wind of Barca’s interest, he was done with Arsenal mentally I think, but with Hector it feels different. He feels like he’s got more of a level head on his shoulders. He comes across as more humble. Perhaps also interestingly, the fact that he hasn’t been a regular in the Spanish squad also has an influence, as he do and have those dickheads from Barca chipping away at him. Sure, this deal doesn’t mean that in two years there won’t be more sniffing, but it does mean that Arsenal hold all the cards. We won’t be held to ransom over a player like Barca have done in the past. It’s different now and I suspect Barca know it too.
Thoughts can now turn to tomorrow night’s game against PSG. With both teams qualified for the group stages, this one feels like it’s a top spot decider, so it’ll be interesting to try to read where Arsène’s squad selection thoughts are at when he talks to the assembled media today. There’s already been some stuff from Emery regarding the intensity of the game and how he expects it to be similar to the one in Paris, which suggests to me that he’ll go full bloodied with his team selection. Will Arsène do the same? You’d hope so, because it would be nice to get the win and know that the final game against Basel in Switzerland is a dead rubber. But we’ll just have to look for that trademark smirk and his reactions when talking about certain players for tomorrow.
That’s it from me today. More on the game tomorrow and a match preview too.