Hector Bellerin has long divided the Arsenal faithful. His form might fluctuate, but the fact that the likes of Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain are said to have a serious interest in his services should highlight that at least on the continent, he is held in much higher regard.
Arsenal fans shouldn’t take the Spaniard for granted, even though now the Gunners are being linked with Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, one of the Premier League’s brightest up and coming talents.
There’s excitement over the prospect of Lamptey joining Arsenal, but is there any guarantee he’d be an immediate upgrade at right back?
Lamptey’s performances caught the eye at the start of the season, with his energetic style, blistering pace and effectiveness in the final third earning him praise. However, injuries have limited the 20-year-old to just 11 Premier League appearances since the start of the campaign.
As a buying club, should that be a cause for concern? We’ve seen players transferred for huge sums only to spend most of their time on the sidelines, but that’s one of the risks you take and while you can never guarantee your new signing will stay fit, due diligence must be applied.
Kieran Tierney is the prime example of somebody whose injury record was suspect prior to the club agreeing to spend approximately £25m on him and, unfortunately, the Gunners have had to be without the Scottish defender on numerous occasions this season.
The opposite example would be Thomas Partey, who prior to joining the Gunners had experienced very few injury concerns and is now having to be managed very carefully by Mikel Arteta and his team off the back of a number of issues.
As for the player’s ability, Lamptey is clearly talented but potential means nothing if unfulfilled and it wasn’t so long ago that Bellerin was being spoken about as having the makings of a top European star.
Is Lamptey’s ceiling higher than that of the former Barcelona man’s when he first broke into the Arsenal side? I wouldn’t be so sure.
The 25-year-old has played 232 games for the Arsenal first-team and that experience is invaluable. He’s seen by his manager as one of the team’s leaders and is currently the vice-captain. If the Gunners were to land the Brighton defender it would bode well for the future of the side, particularly given the likelihood of Bellerin moving on, but does he improve Arsenal immediately?
As we’ve seen in the case of the current Arsenal man, in order to achieve the heights that are expected of those who make an impression at a young age, multiple things need to go your way. You need to stay injury-free, play alongside good professionals, be a part of a competent team, work under the right coach and be fully committed to your own development. Unfortunately, some of those things can be out of your control as a footballer and that’s why there are very few guarantees of success.
Taking into consideration all of the above, there is no guarantee Lamptey would be an upgrade on the Spaniard.