Hector Bellerin is likely to leave Arsenal this summer for a new challenge, claims Bacary Sagna – who also rated his potential replacement.
Sagna spent seven years playing for Arsenal before seeking new opportunities elsewhere. The former right-back now expects the current incumbent of that position to follow a similar route this summer – even if the final destination might be different.
Bellerin is one of Arsenal’s longest-serving players, having made his senior debut in 2013. Still only 26, there have been doubts about the Spaniard’s future.
Vice-captain Bellerin remains an integral part of Mikel Arteta’s team. However, claims arose last month that the full-back had an agreement in place with his boss to leave at the end of the season.
Paris Saint-Germain have been credited with an interest, while hometown club Barcelona may make an effort to sign him.
Bellerin continues to play a major role for Arsenal, but Sagna believes the man who succeeded him at the Emirates Stadium may genuinely be considering his future.
“Hector has been there for years,” Sagna told Goal. “He started playing not long after I left, so he has been in the team for like six years.
“And a bit like I felt, he probably feels that he wants to challenge himself because he has been there for a long time.
“It’s nothing to do with the club, nothing to do with winning cups or whatever. At some point if you want to progress, in my mind you need to go somewhere and challenge yourself and start from zero again. This is how I felt.
“Arsenal was my club and is still my beloved club. But after seven years I had the feeling that because I was part of the house, even when I didn’t deserve to play, I would have played.
“It’s quite tricky as a player. Hector’s still young; he still has five good years to play at the top level and he can do it. So, if he left now, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Sagna also feels that Bellerin has been unfairly criticised for his mixed form since returning from injury issues.
“I want to give credit to Hector no matter what,” he added. “He has been criticised a lot. He was one of the best, but he got a big injury and I think people forget that.
“It’s never easy to get a cruciate ligament [injury] and then come back to your best. He’s coming back to his best now, but it takes time.”
Bellerin to be replaced by Hakimi?
The former Real Madrid star is enjoying an excellent debut season in Italy. However, Inter’s financial troubles may force them to sell.
Hakimi is one of their most valuable players, so they could raise some decent funds by selling him. Arsenal would be wise to take advantage, Sagna believes.
“I am sure they are assessing the situation quite well and they already have someone in mind [if Bellerin leaves],” the Frenchman added.
“Hakimi is never tired, he’s always going forward. He’s so fast.
“I was surprised when I saw him playing for Madrid because for me he was not that good. You could see the potential, but I never expected him to do as well as he is doing now.”