Arsenal fans were buoyed by the news on Monday that first-choice right-back Héctor Bellerin has signed a new long-term deal. Bellerin told the club that he was “really, really excited” when asked to commit his future to the club. He made it clear to supporters that Arsenal is where he wants to be.

Top-class right back

Aged just 21, Bellerin has developed into one of the best Premier League right-backs since breaking into the first team in 2014. He was a regular for the Gunners last season, making 44 appearances in all competitions, and went on to make his Spain debut prior to Euro 2016.

Bellerin admitted that he “didn’t know how to defend” when he joined Arsenal from Barcelona in 2011. But he has added awareness and positional sense to his electrifying pace, placing him among the most sought-after full-backs in world Football. Last season, Bellerin won 54% of his defensive duels.

The young Spaniard may have vastly improved defensively, but his main strength remains attack. His speed and fitness allow him to overlap regularly and, unlike a number of full-backs and wingers around today, his end-product is invariably excellent. He assisted nine goals for the Gunners in the previous campaign, behind only assist-king Mesut Özil and talisman Alexis Sanchez. His all-round Football led to him being named in the 2015/16 PFA team of the year.

Bellerin’s signing not only strengthens the Gunners for years to come, it also sends a positive message to other prized assets such as Sanchez and Özil. Both of their contracts expire in the summer of 2018. Arsenal will need to keep hold of these players if they are to compete for top honours. The previous sales of key men including Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie may well have cost Arsenal trophies in subsequent seasons.

Unmoved by interest from Spain

The symmetry between Bellerin and Fabregas would have concerned many Arsenal fans. Both arrived from Barcelona’s La Masia academy before manager Arsène Wenger nurtured them into world-class players.

In the case of Fabregas, Barcelona relentlessly pursued him until they got their man. Wenger was unhappy about their actions, particularly when Fabregas was pictured in a Barcelona shirt after being coerced by Spanish teammates.

History appeared to be repeating itself when rumours surfaced about Bellerin being Barcelona’s main target following the departure of long-standing right-back Dani Alves. What’s more, there was also interest reported from Premier League rivals Manchester City, now under the guidance of former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. But pleasingly for Wenger, Bellerin quashed that speculation on Monday and showed loyalty to the Gunners. He reassured supporters that “leaving never, ever crossed my mind”.

Wenger was understandably satisfied on Monday, calling the move “fantastic” for the player and the club.

His attention will now turn to a crucial midweek Champions League clash with Paris Saint Germain, when he will be without the injured Bellerin. The winner is likely to top the group and secure a more favourable last 16 tie. Arsenal will be looking to regain their early-season form following three draws in their last four league games.