Mikel Arteta says Hector Bellerin is growing in confidence now that his body is allowing him to perform more consistently.
The right-back, who last night earned his first call-up to the Spain senior squad since 2016, has been one of Arsenal’s best players this season making four assists in 10 appearances as part of the Premier League’s tightest defence.
Having undergone surgery on his ACL in January 2019, it’s been a long road back to top form for the 25-year-old – something he admitted back in September – but his boss is pleased to see the recent progress.
“I think when you have a big injury like that it can take almost a year for your brain to reset and accept that injury and biomechanically become the same player,” said Arteta.
“After that you have to recover and rediscover those performances, that consistency in the minutes you are able to play, which is something he has struggled with in recent years, but when something starts to get more natural, you start to get the flow.
“He is more confident, he is playing regularly, he is able to do more things, he ends the game in a much better way physically and he recovers better. What happens, happens, but his performances are getting better and better.”
Bellerin’s close relationship with Arteta goes back a long way. The full-back has mentioned previously that his compatriot was ‘like a father to me’ when they joined Arsenal within months of each other in 2011 and that friendship looks to have played a part in Bellerin’s decision to stay at the club this summer despite interest from PSG.
Having been in a state of flux for a couple of years, Arteta believes the club needs players like Bellerin who have long-standing ties and have experienced both the highs and the lows.
“Yes, absolutely [it’s important],” said the boss. “As well as that it is about the characters we need in the dressing room and Hector is a key figure in that, in my opinion.
“He is a player who has special feelings towards the club because he has been here a long time and he is very grateful for all the coaches, the staff, the club and the fans have done for him.
“He is always willing to pay that confidence back, that respect back and that loyalty back. It is something you need in our dressing room because at the end of the day that is the habit of this football club.”