We at the Hard Tackle put forth the prospect of Manchester United pursuing Hector Bellerin and how the Spaniard could fit the bill at Old Trafford.
Manchester United have had a weird dynamic at the back for a few years now. Their defence has failed to take shape since the days of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, with the managers who have succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson chopping and changing all too often.
To the surprise of football fans worldwide, Manchester United’s left flank is guarded by a rejuvenated Ashley Young, who is preferred over the younger, more agile and frankly a better prospect in Luke Shaw.
But, the other flank has had less of a problem. Antonio Valencia was converted into a right-back by Sir Alex Ferguson and the years that have followed have seen the Ecuadorian establish himself as one of the best in the position, leading to interest from other top clubs.
Valencia though, is now 32 and will turn 33 in the summer, signalling the fact that a change might be needed at right-back. Matteo Darmian was brought in to take over from the winger-turned-defender. But, after what seemed to be a great debut season for Manchester United, his career has stalled and the player is being linked with a move away in the summer.
Manchester United have thus, been linked with several right-backs in the past few weeks or so. The Red Devils are sure to delve into the market for a right-back when the transfer window reopens and we opine that the club should prioritise Arsenal superstar Hector Bellerin, who is one of the players to be linked with the club.
There are few reasons why we are of the opinion that Bellerin could more than do the job being asked of a right-back at Manchester United and could also be an achievable realistic target for the club in the summer.
Premier League Experience
First of all, when we observe the list of candidates reportedly being drawn up by Manchester United for the summer, no other right-back comes close to the Premier League experience that Bellerin possesses. At 23, the Spaniard is into his fourth season in the Premier League, fifth in England if one includes the season-long loan spell to Watford in the Championship.
Needless to say, Bellerin has become more than accustomed to life and football in England. With Jose Mourinho likely to eye trophies next season, like every other campaign, the focus should be towards bringing in a player who is able to adapt to the football easily.
We shall continue from where we left off in the last point. Adaptability is not just about football but life. While Bellerin might have some lifestyle problems in moving from London to Manchester, he has a gamut of Spanish players at Manchester United to make him feel at home and get him to settle in quickly and adequately.
Arsenal’s dwindling European reputation and the Premier League void
Now we come to why Bellerin could be a realistic and achievable target in the summer. Arsenal did not participate in the Champions League this season and are set to miss out on the competition next season as well, unless they take the Manchester United route and win the Europa League this season.
Even if Arsenal do manage to qualify for Champions League through the Europa League, they have not been a title challenger for the second year in the running. Bellerin could be looking to move to a club that offers him a better shot at trophies.
Interest From Other Clubs
Bellerin is a brilliant player, no doubt. There has been interest from various corners. Barcelona were linked with him last summer before signing Nelson Semedo; Juventus have emerged as a suitor as well. Now, these two clubs can offer him a better platform than Manchester United, with Barcelona and Juventus both on course to win their respective leagues.
But, Barcelona have now ceded their interest in their academy star while Juventus seems to be prioritising Matteo Darmian, which could play into Manchester United’s hands.
It is no secret that Bellerin’s preference is Barcelona. But, according to the reports, while Bellerin is still interested in a return to Barcelona, the Blaugrana are not looking to pursue the Arsenal superstar.
And with Juventus prioritising Darmian, Bellerin could opt for Manchester United, who represent a better shot at trophies compared to Arsenal while also providing a chance to stay in a league he has made his home.
Arsenal are reportedly willing to listen offers around £50 million for Bellerin, which might be a lot for a defender. Then again, on the other hand, comparing the fees that have been paid for defenders recently, £50 million for a 23-year-old with 4 seasons of Premier League experience and contracted to his club till 2023 does sound fair.
I would go to the extent of saying that Hector Bellerin is a Manchester United type player. The Spaniard has often shown his passion for football and would fit right in at a club famous for their wing play.
United have always had marauding full-backs guarding their flanks, perhaps a reason why Valencia and Young are thriving in their converted positions. And there are signs to show Bellerin could do the same and more. The Spaniard is not just an achievable target, but one Manchester United should not only consider, but prioritise.
For, the Arsenal superstar is like a tamed lion, who could finally be freed once again at Manchester United.