When Hector Bellerin first came to Arsenal, he was a 16 year old who had left his hometown club of Barcelona to live in England.
Even for mature players, that transition in terms of lifestyle, weather, language etc can be tough, but the young man found a friend in the shape of Mikel Arteta who took him under his wing and helped him settle in.
“Mikel and his wife adopted me when I arrived,” said Bellerin in 2016. “I was just a kid and he was like a father to me.
“He was fundamental to my integration at Arsenal. I’m very close to him.”
In 2022, Hector has just gone back to Barcelona on a free transfer, after a difficult last couple of seasons at the club.
However, he goes with the best wishes of Arteta, now obviously manager, who also sees a chance to rekindle the friendship which has to take something of a back seat because of the player/manager relationship.
Asked about the 27 year old’s departure, Arteta said, “He called me really late last night and it was more of a conversation that we used to have when we were teammates and really good friends.
“If you take away the coaching and player situation a little bit, I get back into that relationship as well.
“I love the kid, I love what he’s done for the club, he’s someone that I have really strong feelings about and I wish him all the best because I know that it’s one of his dreams to play there.
“Hopefully he can fulfil his dream and get his career back to where he can because he’s still very young and has a lot he can do.”