Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta spoke about Hector Bellerin’ recent omission from the first team and about his availability. The north London club host Slavia Prague in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday.
The Gunners’ season hinges on the Europa League. Their dismal Premier League campaign will not provide them European competition for next season. Their only chance of playing European football next season is by winning the Europa League. But they face a very fierce opponent in Slavia. The champions of the Czech Republic knocked both Leicester City and Rangers on their road to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Arteta will be hoping to use the game to put an abysmal performance against Liverpool 3-behind them after they were humiliated 3-0 at home by the Reds.
The Spanish coach has already dealt a heavy blow ahead of the midweek game. Left-back Kieran Tierney will miss the game and probably the remainder of the season. His absence will be sorely missed by Arsenal as he has been one of their most consistent performers this season.
Arteta explains Bellerin’s situation
One player who is back for the game is right-back Hector Bellerin. The Spaniard last played for the club against Olympiacos in the second leg of the Europa League tie last month.
Cedric Soares and Callum Chambers have deputised pretty well in his absence. Speaking to Football.London, Arteta said that Bellerin’s recent exile has simply been down to giving Chambers a chance. He also confirmed Bellerin is available to play against Slavia. He said:
“No, it’s because of the decisions that we’ve made. He’s [Bellerin] played a lot more this season than he has done in the last two seasons that’s for sure. Sometimes we have to rest him.
Sometimes we have to give chances as well to Cedric and to Calum, that in recent weeks he was completely free to offer something different to the team and that’s it. But he’s available and in contention to play and start games.”
Bellerin’ uncertain future at Arsenal
Bellerin’s time at the Emirates looks to be coming to an end. The 26-year-old has spent almost a decade at the club but will likely leave the club at the end of the season.
He came close to signing for Paris Saint-Germain last summer, with the club’s President keen to sign him. But there was no agreement between the two clubs. And now it looks like his departure from London is imminent.
Various Italian reports suggested that Arsenal have allowed Bellerin to seek a move away this summer after having held talks with him. Juventus, Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain again and Barcelona are keen to sign him for the right price. Arsenal value him at around £20 million and won’t give any discount on their valuation.
Arsenal have already begun the search of a new right-back. Inter’s Achraf Hakimi tops the target list. There are also interest in Tariq Lamptey, Real Betis’ Emerson and Aston Villa’s Matty Cash. Bellerin’s departure may well be best for all parties.