Arsenal’s defensive lineup has suffered a number of serious blows since the conclusion of last season, with many fans fearing their title ambitions were over before they even began the new season.
Serious injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel left manager Arsène Wenger in dire straits ahead of the beginning of the new term, despite having signed England U-21 defender Rob Holding and Germany international Shkodran Mustafi.
As it turned out, the arrival of Mustafi has been a revelation. His blossoming partnership with Laurent Koscielny sees Arsenal enjoying one of their best defensive records for quite some time.
While Wenger’s new-look defence is turning heads, the one dark cloud on the horizon has been the potential loss of 21-year-old Hector Bellerin back to his former club, Barcelona.
Having left the La Liga giant’s youth academy in 2011, Bellerin has become an integral part of the Gunners’ back line and is regarded as the future of Arsenal’s right back position.
However, only this week it was reported that Barcelona were keen to bring their former player back to Camp Nou as a replacement for the recently departed Dani Alves. Cue uneasiness among the Arsenal faithful.
Now, according to the Express, fans can breathe a little easier again as it appears the Catalan club have turned their attentions to Valencia’s Joao Cancelo.
While Gunners’ fans will rejoice at the news that Bellerin may not be heading back to Spain after all, there is still the worrying report that the ambitious defender, who is eager to win some silverware, might be tempted by a move north to Manchester City.
With Wenger reportedly anxious to tie the Spain international to a five-year contract extension, it seems that even though Barcelona appear to be losing interest in their former player, there is still much to do in order to secure Bellerin’s future at the London club.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena