Mikel Arteta says that Hector Bellerin went through a difficult period in his career after suffering an ACL rupture, but after two assists today helped us to a 2-1 win over Sheffield United, the Arsenal boss believes he’s being rewarded for the hard work he’s putting in.
There was talk that the 25 year old might leave the club this summer, however he’s performed well this season, and Arteta revealed that extra work behind the scenes is playing a part in dispelling the doubts he had.
“There are no secrets,” he said, “he’s demanding all the time to do more individual work, to improve in the final third.
“He’s doing a lot of reviews, a lot of individual defensive work as well in things that he has to improve. When you do that, you get rewarded.
“Maybe it’s not going to happen in the first week or the first month but over time, he’ll improve.
“He had a difficult period because he was doubting himself in his head with the amount of time that he’s been here, a lot of things have been happening in the background.
“I trust him, I know him really well and I know how much he can still improve. He’s showing every day that he’s willing to do it. I’m pleased because I really like him.”
The injury, which kept him out for 10 months, and from which there were other smaller niggles which hampered him last season, was something Arteta feared would lead to Bellerin seeking pastures new for a clean start, but is delighted he has his compatriot to call on.
Asked if he was worried Bellerin might depart, he said, “Yes, because I understand that after such a long time at the club, and a lot of things that happened in that trajectory of his development, that he doubted whether he was still OK to continue here, what ambitions he had here, how he can evolve here.
“But what I liked is that he came to me and said, ‘I can see what we are trying to do here and I’m convinced it’s the right place for me’. Then when you close that window, you can open the next one.
“He was a completely different player that I could see in training with his energy level as well, and his willingness to work a little bit more all of the time.
“We need to keep him fit as well, that’s one of the issues he’s had in the last few years because he’s been really unlucky with injuries. You want to have that consistency and at this level of performance, you have to be fit.
“There’s no other way.”