Arsenal Must Learn From Their Mistakes & Keep Faith in Hector Bellerin

"He cares more about fashion than football"

"He needs to eat a bl**dy steak"

"He should shut up and concentrate on football"

Just a few of the criticisms levied at Hector Bellerin by a small portion of Arsenal fans as they greet news of his potential departure with joy - their only real grievance being they don't agree with his personal life.

For most sane fans, however, news of him being offered elsewhere is both deeply concerning and surprising. As potential names for departure are drawn up, Bellerin's name should be near the very bottom.

It's true that Bellerin had a difficult time last season. He struggled with the intensity of the Premier League at times and seemed short of pace. The rampant runs of old where he'd knock the ball well beyond an opposition defender and charge into the open space haven't been seen for a while and he looked nervous going into tackles.

It's so strange how his performances have just tailed off inexplicably, so perhaps this is the start of a downward spiral for the Spaniard. Oh wait, there's a clear explanation for his recent woes - the fact he was ruled out for a year with a serious knee injury.

Playing against Chelsea in 2018/19, Bellerin suffered a nasty ACL rupture. When he eventually returned to the team, a hamstring tear saw him return almost immediately to the treatment room. You would have thought after such a traumatic time with injury, the club may look to slowly integrate him back into the first-team - wrong.

As soon as he was able to, he was starting matches again. After Ainsley Maitland-Niles fell out of favour, Bellerin was dropped back into the starting XI with the hope he'd pick up where he left off pre-injury. He started back with a bang, scoring a late equaliser at Stamford Bridge, but he's struggled since.

The club must acknowledge these struggles in the context of his injury, to write the player off is absurd and would come back to haunt Arsenal just as they have been haunted by Serge Gnabry's exploits for Bayern Munich.

While Bellerin might be fit enough to take to the pitch, the long-term physical and psychological impacts of such a traumatic injury should not be forgotten.

It's hardly a surprise he's lacking pace when a short time ago he couldn't walk. Every time he goes into a tackle the pain of his injury will be on his mind. It may take a while before he fully recovers but if he can get back to his best, it will have been worth keeping him around.

Before his injury, many Arsenal fans saw Bellerin as a fixture at right-back for many years to come. Joining the club in his teens there was a real sense that he could join an illustrious list of players to have (apart from a loan spell at Watford) started and finished their careers as a Gunner. He was talked about as future captain material and his performances on and off the pitch showed a maturity well beyond his years.

Still only 25, it's important to remember just how brilliant the Spaniard can be. The 2016 Team of the Year inclusion was arguably in the best form of his life pre-injury and he became a consistent threat higher up the pitch - midway through the season he'd already matched his highest total for assists.

He must be given the time to rediscover this kind of form, otherwise Arsenal may well be looking back in a few years wondering what they've done. Let's not forget his loyalty either, as he turned down the opportunity to return to Barcelona once upon a time - something that a lot of players, let alone Spaniards, would be prepared to do.

Cedric Soares - his alleged replacement - is solid, yes, but he's not the future of the club. Bellerin is, and it's about time that Arsenal saw what's plainly in front of them.

Source : 90min