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Héctor Bellerín: The Boyhood Betis Fan Who Needed A Fresh Start


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  • Héctor Bellerín: The Boyhood Betis Fan Who Needed A Fresh Start

    Héctor Bellerín made a deadline day loan move from Arsenal to Real Betis after months of speculation linking him with the likes of Barcelona and Inter Milan.

    The 26-year-old defender was one of the English side’s longest serving players, having made his full debut in September 2014, in a 2-0 away loss to Borussia Dortmund. 239 appearances, 9 goals, 28 assists and 3 FA cup wins later, both he and the club decided it was time for a fresh challenge. He joins on a dry loan, with no option or obligation to buy, as the Verdiblancos could not meet Arsenal’s asking price of around £20m.

    Why Bellerín Needed a Move

    The right-back had his best season in 2015/16, as Arsenal finished second, earning himself a place in the Premier League team of the season. His form dipped slightly at times during the following two seasons yet remained a reliable first choice defender and leader in the dressing room. Following the appointment of Unai Emery to Arsenal in 2018, Bellerín looked back to his best but tore a cruciate ligament in January 2019 which kept him side-lined for nearly a year.

    His initial return looked good, scoring a late equaliser at Chelsea almost a year to the day after his injury, and performed well in the 2020 FA cup final. However, last season proved to be his most difficult one, as poor performances and heavy criticism saw him lose form and ultimately his place in the team by the end of the season. His once unbeatable pace had diminished and there were games in which he was easily bullied off the ball, in addition to comically repetitive foul throws fuelling the fire towards him. Bellerín pushed for a move this summer, and was ultimately granted his wish, by moving to the club he supported as a child.

    He remained a model professional throughout the summer, as he has done since the day he arrived, but was very eager for a move to try and rediscover his old form.

    Where He Fits In The Team

    The Spaniard has slot straight in at right-back as a direct replacement for Emerson Royal, who returned to Barcelona before completing a deadline day move to Tottenham Hotspur.

    Emerson was a key player for Pellegrini’s side last season, starting 34 matches in La Liga, scoring once and assisting 4 times. Emerson ranked in the top 10% of defenders in Europe for pressures, tackles, and interceptions, whilst also pushing forward a lot, overlapping the right winger in the 4231 shape most commonly used.

    Statistically, Bellerín appears a lot weaker on paper defensively, with significantly less tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes, although Bellerín played as a more advanced wing back in a back 5 at times. Nevertheless, his physical decline post-injury has clearly impacted his defensive ability and strength. However, going forward he could be a useful fit in the current system at Betis: his pace going forward still remains at a good level and his good passing ability could provide extra creativity to the front line. Bellerín ranks in the top 20% of fullbacks for his passing, expected assists and touches in the opposition box, showing that in a possession-based team, he can be useful at keeping the ball further up the pitch.
    His Debut

    Bellerín played the entire 90 minutes at right back on Monday night in the 2-1 win away at Granada. He looked comfortable on the ball and solid in defence, whilst also registering 2 key passes and an 81% pass accuracy. He linked up well with Rodri on the right, whilst also tucking inside as an extra centre midfielder when in possession. The early signs are positive, and it was a good performance to build upon going forward.

    It may take some time for Bellerín to get up to speed in terms of his fitness and adapting to a new league, but he brings a wealth of experience, including 4 seasons of regular Europa League football, and leadership to the dressing room. It is rumoured that Bellerín himself specifically chose the Benito Vilamarin as his ideal destination for a fresh start, and if he can find the form which made him so popular at Arsenal when breaking through, then he can prove to be a shrewd bit of business as Manuel Pellegrini looks to strengthen ahead of a busy campaign.

    So far he's shown a noticeable upgrade to Martín Montoya, who's struggled quite significantly since joining last summer from Brighton. Bellerín has provided a batter balance on the right flank, positioning himself well and already forming a nice partnership with Nabil Fekir, a role that Emerson played very well before his move to Spurs.
    A Blackgon le gusta esto.

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