It has been announced today by Arsenal F.C. via Twitter that right-back Hector Bellerin has, as feared on Saturday during their 2-0 win over Chelsea, ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of his left knee.
The club went on further to state:
“Hector will undergo surgery to repair this in the coming days. The rehabilitation process is expected to take between six to nine months and therefore rules Hector out of action for the remainder of this season”.
The Spanish full-back had only made his return to the first-squad in Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to West Ham a week prior to the Chelsea clash. Bellerin had been ruled out of action for 4 weeks due to a calf injury; and the Chelsea game signified his return to the starting line-up.
Bellerin is now expected to be sidelined until at least the start of the 2019/2020 season in August with a hefty spell in rehab ahead of him in what will be a gruelling battle to return to fitness and support his club.
Not for the fainthearted, video’s circled social media at the weekend showing in slow mo what seems to be the moment Bellerin’s knee ruptures.
This is yet another horror injury for Arsenal fans to swallow this season, with Danny Welbeck ruling himself out against Sporting with picking up an ankle injury and Rob Holding who ruptured his knee ligament in a Premier League clash against Manchester United.
What now for Emery and Arsenal?
Emery commented after the Chelsea game that the injury looked bad and that he must begin planning without one of his most influential player for the foreseeable future.
With this planning now necessary until the end of the season I’m sure there’s plenty of Arsenal fans hoping that they see some arrivals to the Emirates before next Thursday’s transfer deadline.
However, rather sobering news for Arsenal fans is that their manager, Unai Emery, is on record announcing that the only business the club can do in this winter window are loan options:
“We cannot sign permanently … We can only loan players. I know the club is working on possibilities of which players can help us with big performances like we need now. I cannot say more.”
These shackles placed upon the club, in terms of the viable options which they can pursue between now and when the window shuts next week, are only made worse by their Head of Recruitment, Sven Mislintat, announcing his departure from the club after only 14 months in North London.
Mislintat will officially leave his role on the 8th of February as confirmed by the club yesterday – a week after the transfer deadline admittedly – yet one can easily question the commitment to which Mislintat will be giving to his duties at Arsenal while he, as he said himself is, “looking forward to new challenges for myself”.
Emery has reiterated that Bellerin’s injury will not change Arsenal’s approach to this winter window and the ranks within the club will have to be utilised to cover the Spaniards sidelining.
Emery has 3 options to replace Bellerin in the form of: Lichtsteiner, Maitland-Niles or the often forgotten, Carl Jenkinson.
It was indeed Maitland-Niles who covered for Bellerin in the right-back position during Saturday’s clash with Chelsea after Bellerin was stretchered off, and is expected to be favoured by Emery to be the long-term cover.
Jenkinson is yet to have a single minute in the league this season and Lichsteiner was first moved to the bench and then left out the squad to accommodate the return of Bellerin – clearly out of favour with the Arsenal gaffer.
It wouldn’t be the transfer window without the rumour mill churning in full force. With such injuries to star players it is of course no surprise to see Arsenal being linked with every full-back the footballing world has to offer.
While there are options in the market for Emery to turn towards and bolster his hampered squad – the necessity for loan options seriously limits his options.
While Elseid Hysaj from Napoli, a long time prospect for Arsenal, would prove a viable option with the player seeking an exit from Naples, the €50 million buy-out-clause from his contract is somewhat of a turn off for Stan Kroenke and co.
Their is one strong connection however that could bring some relief to Gooners; albeit not in the full-back area.
Barcelona yesterday announced the loan signing of Sassuolo’s Kevin Prince Boateng which could prove to be music to Emery’s, and Arsenal fans alike, ears.
The arrival of Boateng to the Nou camp could allow an exit for, like Emery, an ex-Sevilla prospect to arrive in the North of London.
Denis Suarez has been a long term admired player by Unai Emery and the pair worked together during their time spent in Sevilla.
With Barcelona seemingly happy to exercise a loan deal for the midfielder similar to their deal with Sassuolo, it seems like the green lights are being lit for this deal rather quickly.
Yet, Suarez wouldn’t offer any remedy to the headache being caused by the recent injury to Bellerin and instead addresses further issues faced by Arsenal in their midfield and the long drawn out curious case of Mesut Ozil.
If you’re an Arsenal fan reading this; begin to place your faith in Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Do you think Arsenal will cope without Hector Bellerin and achieve a top four spot? Let us know your thoughts below.