Why Hector Bellerin told no to Pep Guardiola and Manchester City | David Hytner

20 days ago

Arsenal right-back was perfect fit for Citys new director a young player with Barcelona DNA and an education in the Premier League

The overtures started around February time, when Manchester City had announced that Pep Guardiola would become their new administrator at the end of the season. Guardiola wanted a full-back with searing pace and assaulting instincts, somebody to build the play out from the back, and he wanted Hctor Bellern of Arsenal.

To Guardiola, it was the perfect fit a young player with Barcelona DNA and an education in the Premier League. These days, there is little doubt that, at only 21, the former Barcelona youth-team player is the finest right-back in England. Bellern was named in last seasons PFA Team of the Year and this month he was shortlisted for the Fifpro World Team of the Year, alongside only one other Premier League defender Chelseas David Luiz. The squad will be announced in January.

And so City began Operation Bellern. They opened talks with his people and sought to sell the merits of the be removed from a playing perspective. Above all, they made it clear they would be able to offer him a massive wage far in excess of anything Arsenal would grant him. The transfer fee would not be a problem. The message from City was that they were prepared to pay whatever it took.

Other clubs were interested in Bellern, including Barcelona, Manchester United and Atltico Madrid. But City were the most persistent. By far. They refused to take no for an answer. And they had the cash to be extremely persuasive.

The way many major transfers work is that the interested club plug away through intermediaries, outlining what they can offer and, once the player is keen, they go in through the front doorway with an official bid to his employer. It never got to that point with City and Arsenal over Bellern.

Arsenal had get wind of things and their stance was resolute: Bellern would not be for sale at any price. Arsne Wenger joked on Friday morning that City were good clients, having previously taken Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Tour, Samir Nasri, Gal Clichy and Bacary Sagna from him. But, he added, those days were over.

Today, we can give fiscal gratification and supporting aspirations and values that can stimulate the players happy at this club, Wenger told, as he prepared for his squads trip to City on Sunday. Before, due to the Emirates Stadium build, perhaps the financial gap was too big a difference to maintain our players. We could not compete. We had to sell players.

It was Bellern who told no to City and the riches on offer, because he wanted to stay at Arsenal. In November he signed a six-and-a-half-year contract, worth 115,000 a week but, the Guardian understands, he could have got substantially more at City.

Bellern bided for a number of reasons, including a slightly unusual one in 21 st-century football the sense of loyalty that he feels towards Wenger and the club. He has not forgotten how the manager stood by him after his disastrous full debut in the Champions League defeat at Borussia Dortmund in September 2014 and his poor performance in the loss at Stoke City in December of that year.

Moreover, Bellern considered how a number of former Arsenal players had fared since their departures. He thought about Clichy, Sagna and Nasri together with Cesc Fbregas and Alex Song. Has the grass been greener for the first three at City? Did Fbregass dream return to Barcelona really work up? Song also went to Camp Nou, and he did not enjoy regular football.

You can understand why City tried to sign Hctor over the summer because he has developed into a superb talent, told Terry Burton, who was the head of coaching at Arsenal between 2012 -1 4, where “hes working with” Bellern. Im sure he will continue to be a target for clubs of Arsenals standing. Theres not many better right-backs around to have.

Am I astounded that he turned down more fund from City to stay at Arsenal? In the general climate, yes. But in Hctors suit , no. Hes an intelligent player and he understands that if he continues to be the best right-back in the Premier League, Arsenal will reward him again in the next contract. He is sensible enough to realise that hes on fantastic wages for a 21 -year-old and farther rewards will come with continued success.

Hctor feelings loved at Arsenal and I think hes one of those that does need to feel loved. Hes constructed a lot of good relations at the club and Arsenal are barely the worst one in the world to be playing for. Hes made some good decisions. One was signing for Arsenal when he did, as a 16 -year-old in 2011, and another has been staying with them now.

Burton, the head of emerging talent at Southampton, recollects the time when Bellerns decision-making was not quite as sound. He talks about the concept of danger and reward, which has long been central to his coaching in other words, when and where it is worthwhile to take a risk.

We fell out after a NextGen European youth game in Marseille[ in October 2012 ], Burton told. We required a describe and it was 0-0 in injury-time. Hctor tried to nutmeg someone just outside of his defensive third and they transgressed away to score the winner. I devoted him a rocket, which he took. Hes a great lad and hes got a really great attitude. It was an important learning situation, which allows you hammer home the point. Young players have to learn game management.

Bellerns pace and determination to attack were marked where reference is arrived at Arsenal from Barcelona; he was a winger at the time. But the club saw that he could be converted into a right-back, and they worked hard on the defensive side of his game.

Could he defended the back post? Burton said. Was his body shape right? Was he aware of people coming in on him? Could he back in and jumping and defend at the back post. With his pace, could he get out and shut people down in broad the regions and block crossings? But it was also in possession, and to its implementation of turnovers. He took a lot of chances in defensive areas. It was that decision-making, because he did turn the ball over quite a bit in his defensive third. He needed the awareness that his first pass, in certain areas, had to be a safe one.

Bellern has come to tick all the boxes the velocity of his developing has been astonishing and, having committed to Arsenal, he has emerged as a emblem of Wengers latest project. Bellern has talked of Arsenal feeling like home and how signing the new contract was the right thing in order to be allowed to do. He believes Arsenal are get stronger each year and closer to the title. City will watch him on Sunday with a degree of regret.

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