Jon Toral says the rapid rise to first team prominence of close pal Hector Bellerin is an inspiration for every player in Arsenal’s youth ranks.
The 20-year-old, who is currently on loan at Championship side Birmingham, moved to the Emirates with Bellerin in May 2011 having grown up playing side-by-side at Barcelona’s La Masia academy.
The duo’s career trajectory had been ticking along in tandem, both players featured for the Gunners in the NextGen series and UEFA Youth League and were included in Arsene Wenger’s pre-season plans in 2014, before Bellerin exploded onto the Premier League scene last term while Toral was at Brentford.
In an interview with FourFourTwo, Toral reflected: “Every player is different, everyone takes routes in their career. He [Bellerin] has taken the quick one to the first team at Arsenal and I’ve had to go on loan.
“I’m enjoying it [at St. Andrew’s] and I’m learning a lot to try to get into that first team.”
“I’m just very happy for him, it’s just great to see him doing as well as I knew he could do.
“I played with him for so many years since I was eight, and when I got to Barcelona he was there. I know him, I know the way he works, how much he wanted it. I know how good he is and I’m sure he will continue for many years to be a very important player for Arsenal.”
“It gives you confidence, every player who comes from the under-18s and 21s to the first team shows you that it can be done. He [Bellerin] is like a role model in some ways.”
The circumstances behind Bellerin’s quick ascension from reserve team football to first team regular have been well-documented. Like Francis Coquelin his ‘discovery’ has been something of a happy accident; a combination of squad injuries, the faith of the manager and delivering on the pitch when given a chance.
For Toral to follow in Bellerin’s footsteps he’s going to need a little bit of luck – playing in midfield he’s got a lot of competition ahead of him – but you’d be wrong to write him off just yet.
He’s got a chance. Did well at Brentford.
But it’s tough making the leap, we have been very lucky with Hector and the Coq arriving at such a high level in the same year.
The usual issue with young players (even really talented ones) is consistency. Coquelin is a little older and has gained consistency during his loan spells but the younger Bellerin has been a revelation. A couple of poor games and 5 or 6 quiet (but decent) games in over a season is remarkable. To have the mental ability to get your head down and work hard in a game when the first few things don’t all go right is a rare thing for a player under 23/24.
Good player with some nice touches. Shades of a young Xabi Alonso but a lot to learn. Doesn’t seem the fittest or quickest. And his passing is decent, it’s not that varied. Might do well in a deep role alongside a DM. Still 2-3 years away from the 1st team.
I haven’t seen much of him (the odd highlights on TV). Is he a decent Tackler?
Thought you were talking about Bellerin for a minute and I was like “doesn’t seem the fittest or quickest?!? have you seen this boy???” haha
With Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky’s contracts all ending next summer, if he shows enough promise whilst on loan maybe he will get a chance as an understudy to Le Coq or one of the other 1st team regulars
Although he doesn’t seem to be getting much game-time at Hull at the moment, I think Hayden is more likely to understudy Coqelin.
Actually, a very good point. While competition in Arsenal’s midfield is well-documented, we will lose at least two of these three players next summer… and cazorla too has probably got two more years, maybe? so, after that we have Coquelin, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil and the Ox, i guess, although he still seems to be used on the wing more. so that’s four, max. five players for three positions. Arsenal are gonna need more players there, at least two-three more, if you’re thinking long-term. The likes of zelalem, Toral, crowley have a golden opportunity to make sure Wenger trusts them to… Read more »
A good point. I’ll be really interested to see whether any of those squad places will be filled by youngsters next year, assuming all three do indeed leave. I (and probably most fans with me) think we should at least replace Arteta with a senior player to provide backup and competition for Coquelin. But the other two squad places are a bit further removed from the first eleven, so there does seem to be a chance there for the likes of Hayden, Zelalem, Maitland-Niles or Toral (and I’m sure I’m forgetting another candidate or two).
Of those 3, I think Arteta is the one that will stay although I think he’ll drop to 3rd choice and put in some time for his coaching badges. TR and Flamini can both easily play for a mid table team or better, anywhere in Europe and will want more game-time while they can but I think MA is thinking further ahead.
If Wenger says he trust and believe in you, don’t ever leave! Take lesson from Merida. In some time Rosicky will retire or his contract expires, injuries to the likes of Wilshere and Ramsey, and someone has to step up to replace Cazorla in the future (a distant future I hope). So it’s in your hand actually Jon.
Ages 17-21 are so crucial to a player’s development. Long-term progress can be seriously hampered by injury at this stage. Toral has been unfortunate, and let us hope he gets a new contract, and a chance to fulfil his potential. I feel for the likes of Afobe before him.
I believe he signed a new contract earlier on in the year, definitely has potential, would be great to see him follow in Hector’s footsteps
You have to be quite good to dislodge any one of Arsenal midfielders. Wilshere, Rosicky, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey and Ozil; daunting task.
Bellerin had Debuchy (who was injured) and Chambers (who had lost form) to contend with.
Toral has his work cut out. A loan move again next season – this time to an epl team – could be the sensible thing to do just like Jenkinson.
He has the talent though.
Not really, just wait for an injury to strike. Not a nice thought but that can be all it takes to be thrust into the first team, just look at Iwobi being on the bench and then making his league debut.
Meanwhile Mike Dean is still running around celebrating spurs goal from last night.
Once Jon has the accent down, he’ll be put straight into the squad and will take off.
Bellerin > Spanish accent > Not in the first team
Bellerin > London/Spanish accent > Undroppable and one of, if not the best RB in the league right now.
Are you really Mark Hughes? Because that really was dumb!
Now that I know
“Hey Mark, why don’t you and those tw*ts at Stoke learn some football rather?!”
Hmmm yes, yeees… Very insightful.
Doesn’t Toral already speak with an English accent? His mum is English.
Toral has an English mother and has spoken English since early childhood (per Wikipedia).
New theory please (or he would be in the squad and have taken off)…
There is a bit of a difference between having an English accent and having a London accent……………….
Yeah Toral has English accent. Watch his earlier arsenal videos with bellerin on Twitter.
Think he’d make an Ace centre forward. He’s tall but should work on his physicality, but his heading is already good and he seems like a player with a better ability to finish than passing range. With his technique he could turn out like RVP except more handsome
And less cunty.