His rise to become the first choice right-back at Arsenal was due to a combination of talent and luck, but he has now established himself as one of the first names on the team-sheet. There have been continued links with a return to Barcelona and the Catalan club were expected to make a move during the summer after the departure of Dani Alves. However, Bellerin has remained at the Emirates Stadium and he will be hoping to continue developing at a rapid rate. His start to the season has been solid, if unspectacular and there is room to improve in the coming weeks.
His attacking quality is well known with his pace being his best attribute, as he can easily surge past players when he is running with the ball. This season, he has averaged 1.8 dribbles per game, which is equal to his average last yea, showing that his role in the side hasn’t changed. He has been more wasteful in possession to date as he has been dispossessed 1.4 times per game which is a slight increase from his average of 1 last season. This suggests that he is still settling into the new season and yet to hit top form.
Moreover, his average of key passes (0.9) and shots (0.6) per game have risen since last season, which suggests his end product is improving. He has recorded just a single assist this season, coming in the match against Chelsea, but his decision making is getting better. The Spaniard will be aiming to beat his last season’s contribution of one goal and five assists. It would be a surprise if he doesn’t achieve this as his final produce will improve with age. He is now an experienced first team player and as a result, he should be making fewer errors on the ball.
The one part of his game that needs to be improved is his defensive contribution, as he can be targeted by opposition teams. At the start of this season, he has averaged 0.8 tackles and 2 interceptions per game, showing that he can retrieve the ball. His pace is a great asset to have and helps him hide some his defensive flaws. Arsenal normally dominate possession, which allows Bellerin to focus on attacking. If they lose the ball against lesser opposition, the Spaniard is quick enough to recover and get back to help defend. It has been against better sides that Bellerin has struggled, because he is required to do a lot more defensive work and his game isn’t suited to that.
It is too early to consider Bellerin as a world class right-back, but he if he continues to develop at his current rate, he will reach that level. Last season, he was named in the PFA team of the year and he will want to push on from that. If he improves defensively, he will be a complete full back and there are few of them in the modern game. The full back position is one of the weakest in football at the moment and it is refreshing to see one with as much potential as Bellerin breaking through at Arsenal.
In recent days, Santi Cazorla has stated that Arsenal need to secure the future of the talented Bellerin before Barcelona come calling. The Spanish club will be keen to bring him back to the Camp Nou, especially as he is young enough to be their first choice right-back for the next decade. It might be that he has to leave Arsenal to continue his development at one point, especially if the Gunners don’t start challenging for major titles. His start of the season has been decent, but he needs to push on and confirm his position as the best right-back in the league.