Former Chelsea coach Ray Wilkins has claimed that Hector Bellerin has taken steps backwards, highlighted by his penalty error for Arsenal this weekend.
The Spanish defender broke through into the squad three years ago, taking full advantage of injuries to previously favoured pair Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy, and has been highly rated ever since.
Bellerin continued to flourish in our side into his second term, and was even selected for the PFA Premier League Team of the Year for 2015-16, but has since struggled.
The 22 year-old had some minor injury struggles during last season, and is yet to look the same player since. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had been challenging for his starting place in the side, and you could even say was winning the battle for some time, before he left the club to join Liverpool.
The Gunners are now short of rivals for Bellerin’s starting role, and would struggle to drop him, but does he need to be dropped?
Ray Wilkins is certainly surprised by his downfall, and his failures in the weekend’s loss to Watford have only moved to highlight that.
“What I would say is when I first saw this young man Bellerin come into English football, three, four years ago, he had dynamic pace,” Wilkins said.
“He was all over the pitch and I thought ‘my word, Arsene’s dug up one there, what a footballer’.
“He wouldn’t have been beaten in that situation by Richarlison.
“Richarlison gets the final touch, there is minimal contact and he goes over, but unfortunately minimal contact in the modern-day game can mean a penalty kick.
“Bellerin for me has gone slightly backwards from the player I first saw three or four years ago.
“This fella was one of the outstanding full-backs I had seen in many a year to be honest.
“He would never have been beaten in that situation.”
How much has Bellerin deteriorated? Is he a prime example of our squad’s weaknesses? Can we afford to drop him?