If he’d had a mischievous side to him, he’d have changed the ringtone on his phone and every time Arsène was within earshot, Peter, Paul and Mary’s Leaving On A Jet Plane would belt out.
But Hector’s not like that; straightforward talks, sign, bosh! It’s done; the first important contract renewal of the year signed and talk of interest from Manchester City or Barcelona can be left swirling around the rim of transfer rumour bin, before settling with a comforting thud as they make their way down the bin.
It never occurred to Hector to leave and why should he? He’s first choice on the right and not under any genuine threat from a young usurper, although as he’s only 21 a younger challenger would be a little more than an embryo at this stage. Bellerin said of it all:
“I wasn’t thinking about anything else other than staying here and continuing my development here. This is where I’m happy. I’m just very grateful and pleased to have signed.
“Arsenal is not only about being a footballer, you have to be a good person to play here. That’s what everyone transmits inside the club. You represent more than just a football club.
“Now I’ve just got to keep on progressing, keep working hard to be the best player I can be, and hopefully help the team to be where its got to be, to win some silverware. That’s what everyone wants and that’s what I’m working towards.”
Good chap, carry on as you were.
There’s no doubt that Bellerin is a key player to tie down to a new deal although we all know that football contracts are rarely worth the paper they are written on. If a player wants out or a club decides to sell, there’s nothing to be done about it.
At the moment, Arsenal are in a ‘golden age’ as far as full back partnerships go. Rice/McNab, Anderson/Sansom, Dixon/Winterburn; add Bellerin/Monreal to that list. The latter’s suffered a dip in form but you tend to notice it when players set a high bar. Nonetheless, there’s a strong argument that we have the best full backs in the English game. The Middlesex Pub Team might claim otherwise but to be honest, anyone who holds England internationals as shining lights in football, is on a sticky wicket.
It’s a defining time for the club. There are all manner of positive noises about Mesut Özil’s new deal whilst Laurent Koscielny’s deal is expected to be signed shortly. No news of Santi Cazorla’s new deal but you have to wonder how that is being influenced by his injury woes of the last year. What would previously be thought of as a no-brainer is probably being re-assessed, more in terms of contract length and there a divergence between what the two parties think, has no doubt emerged.
As the dominoes fall, you get some idea of where the players mindset is. They all respect Arsène but do they believe that they will win – or have a chance to win – the silverware they tell us they desire under his stewardship?
Each player has a different motivation. Some want money first, others recognise that the financial rewards are at a level where winning is more relevant to them. Medals don’t pay the bills but with the obscene amounts paid to players at the élite clubs, money shouldn’t be the only consideration.
Importantly, you wonder if this will prompt others to tie up their deals? It’s a strong statement that he is happy at the club and we all know he could quite easily move elsewhere and be first choice. Maybe that’s his longer term aim but only Hector can answer that.
With the relative freedom of movement, football has become a sport where you enjoy the best players whilst they wear your club colours. You then hope that the directors don’t sell to a direct rival. Those days are over, they claimed when we moved to the Emirates, and maybe they are.
For the moment, we’ll see if these mega-riches which the clubs enjoyed are being invested in the squad or when the ubiquitous Management Fees will start appearing once again in the accounts.