Arsenal certainly turned some heads this summer with their decisions regarding the youth team players. The club culled a vast majority of their younger players including many regulars for the NextGen Series and development league squads.
But they have also been offering out the contracts to those who are deemed worthy of more time at the club - with one impressive talent in particular catching the eye.
And yesterday, Hector Bellerin was rewarded for the continued impression he has been leaving on the Arsenal hierarchy.
Signed in 2011 from Barcelona he originally arrived as a right midfield operator; however over time he has slowly been adapted into an attacking right-full-back in the Arsenal youth ranks.
And this season he has had his best campaign yet and has been rewarded with a long-term deal with the club; and the timing of the reward could not be any more intriguing.
Arsenal currently have two international right-backs in their first-team squad; a luxury they are afforded in both full-back positions.
Carl Jenkinson is a future hope for both Arsenal and England. Last season showcased his talents with some excellent performances in the first-team whilst the first choice player in his position was struggling with yet another injury.
Bacary Sagna however came back to reclaim his place in the starting XI; but that does not assure his place in the Arsenal squad next season.
Sagna’s contract expires at the end of the campaign and so far this summer he has not exactly been convincing Gunners fans that he plans to stay in North London.
With Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan all said to be lurking many people believe that the Gunners will cash in on the 30-year-old this summer; rather than lose him for nothing next summer.
By offering Bellerin a new contract they could be ready to offer him more first-team opportunities next season; perhaps even with Carl Jenkinson as his superior.
Wenger has a well-known track record for giving youngsters a chance in the first team and despite his obvious war-chest a leopard rarely changes its spots.
On the other hand they may just be tying Bellerin down as an eventual replacement for Sagna; and paving the way to simply let him leave when his contract expires in a years’ time.
Which do you think is more likely? First-team football for Bellerin next season? Or one more year of development?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald