Has Bellerin run his race at Arsenal? We look at alternatives that the Gunners should be looking at…
1) Tariq Lamptey: The former Chelsea academy graduate might be the perfect solution to Arsenal’s right-back woes. Before the emergence of Bukayo Saka at the unusual right-wing position, that side of the team was highly ineffective when Arsenal pushed to score goals. The left flank was where Arsenal showed signs of real quality. The combination between Tierney and Aubameyang was crucial to the team’s last season FA Cup success. If Arsenal do add Lamptey in the summer, the prospect of linking up with Saka would be pretty enticing. Lamptey is one of the quickest players in world football at the moment. Last year in September, in a game against Newcastle United, the 20-year-old clocked an astonishing average speed of 22.8 miles per hour. That speed pushed him into a top 10 list of the fastest players of 2020 which included the likes of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Arsenal’s Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang.
This is a player who was a teenager just five months ago and displaced players with vast experience such as Martin Montoya and Ezequiel Schelotto at Brighton who had earlier plied their trade at heavyweights Barcelona, Real Betis, Inter Milan, Sporting CP. His weaknesses, if any, lies in aerial duels. But his lightning pace easily covers any deficiencies the young fullback has. The low center of gravity helps him on pouncing on loose balls. It also helps him in wriggling past his opponents without much effort. Given Bellerin’s lack of athleticism, he has been used most effectively as an inverted full-back by Arteta. But with the addition of Lamptey, Arsenal will have the armoury as well as the ammunition for penetrating their opponents.
2) Achraf Hakimi: The 22-year-old has been linked to a switch to Arsenal in the last couple of summer transfer windows. Even though that switch never materialized, it does not mean that the current FA Cup holders are not currently tracking his progress. The North-London giants are one of many who would try to dangle a carrot in front of their wanted horse. The Moroccan international has been exceptional in increasing the output of the teams he has played in. In the current campaign, the former Real Madrid full-back has six goals and six assists in Serie A for Inter.
His drives into the penalty box of the opponents has been dangerous and effective, as was the case when he was in Germany. In his two-year spell at Dortmund, he made 29 goal contributions. Pinpoint crosses, pace, aerial ability is what the young full-back can be relied upon. The partnership between Kieran Tierney, 23, and Achraf Hakimi ,22, can blossom in the Premier League for several years. Given the player already has a desire to play in England, the biggest task at Edu’s hands would be whether the higher echelons at the club can finance another expensive deal, like they did on the deadline day in October for Thomas Partey.
3) Max Aarons: One of the best under radar players is none other than Norwich City’s Max Aarons. Even though The Canaries hardly appeared on the headlines in the team’s Premier League campaign last season, his performances were duly noticed by the onlookers. The lung-bursting runs from his own half, Aarons gave the opposition team’s left-backs a constant headache. Still only 20, the English full-back attracted interest from Spurs and Bayern Munich in the summer. Whilst, he hardly came close to joining any club, that same notion happening again seems unlikely. Given that he’s a homegrown player, the acquisition of the Norwich star will make a lot of sense, in the post Brexit era.
4) James Justin: Ask any Leicester fan who has been one of the most constant performers in their fantastic run so far, and one name which might be called out several times will be “James Justin.” The 22-year-old has been exceptional for Brendan Rodgers’ side. The former Luton Town player has an ability to play at both full back positions with equal effect. Being a right-footer has not stopped the Leicester boss in utilizing Justin at the left-back spot. He has played 5 more games (13) at the left-back spot than his own preferred position of right-back (7). Mikel Arteta’s fondness of the “Switching Positions” formations would make their endeavors to land the Leicester man pretty rational. He has even played center-back, left and right midfield for the Foxes. This is a player who is knocking on Gareth Southgate’s Euros squad and the acquisition of the 22-year-old will be exceptional, if not perfect.
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