Arsenal boost as Bellerin agrees new six-year deal
Published 22/11/2016 | 02:30
Hector Bellerin will more than double his wages after committing himself to Arsenal until 2023, while the Gunners are close to making Mesut Ozil the highest paid player in their history by extending his contract until 2019.
Progress in talks with Alexis Sanchez, however, remain slower, while the futures of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla will hinge on how the rest of the season unfolds.
Bellerin's decision to ignore interest from Manchester City and Barcelona has given Arsenal a huge boost and his new contract eases fears that he might follow Cesc Fabregas back to Barcelona. He joined their academy as an eight-year-old and remained at the club until Arsenal came calling in 2011.
Assistant manager Steve Bould quickly got to work turning Bellerin into a right-back - he arrived as a small but quick outside-right. Within a year, Bellerin was playing at right-back for Arsenal's U-21s, at the age of 17, and his progression continued quickly from there.
Arsenal signed Carl Jenkinson in 2011 and Mathieu Debuchy in 2014 but they have both been blown away by Bellerin.
Modern, expansive football needs fast full-backs, men to provide the width while attacking midfielders tuck in. That is how Arsenal play, with their narrow 4-2-3-1 demanding their full-backs dominate wide areas.
In Bellerin, they have a player who is fit and fast enough to keep charging up and down his flank, framing their attacks while also helping out in defence.
In the future, most full-backs will be converted wide players, but for now Bellerin is a rare model, which is why he is so attractive to other clubs. Pep Guardiola wanted him at City this summer, seeing his Barcelona education and Premier League experience as the perfect combination.
City would have paid very good money for Bellerin, but Arsenal refused to negotiate at any price and Bellerin was very happy to stay too.
If Barcelona came in for him it might be a harder decision, but now that Bellerin has signed up until 2023 there is no danger of that happening any time soon.
Bellerin's previous £40,000-a-week contract was due to expire in 2019. His new deal will be worth around £100,000 a week.
Both Ozil and Sanchez, who are currently on around £140,000 a week, will be offered deals approaching £200,000.
Negotiations with Sanchez appear more complicated than with Ozil and it is understood that he would like a buyout clause inserted in any new deal.