Arsenal have suffered a major blow after it was reported Hector Bellerin will miss the start of next season due to an injury he suffered in the Gunners 2-0 victory last January. The Spain international went under the knife after he suffered a cruciate knee ligament damage in the game against the Blues.
The 24-year-old travelled to Spain for the operation and was ruled out for six to nine months. It has now been confirmed he won’t be back until September earliest. According to the London Evening Sport, Arsenal had hoped Bellerin will be fit to start next season, but that will not be the case.
Bellerin has made good progress with the club’s Head of Sports Medicine and Athletic Performance, Des Ryan, claiming in March that the 24-year-old could return “at an even higher level”.
The best-case scenario was that Bellerin would be available to play some part in pre-season ahead of Arsenal’s opening Premier League match against Newcastle on August 11 but Standard Sport understands he will not be ready in time.
No exact return date has been specified as yet but he is expected to miss several weeks of the new campaign at the very least. Arsenal declined to comment when contacted by Standard Sport on Tuesday morning.
The news is something of a blow to head coach Unai Emery having already allowed veteran full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner to leave the club following their decision not to take up the option of a one-year extension to his contract.
Emery has Ainsley Maitland-Niles to call on but the youngster prefers to operate as a central midfielder and so Bellerin’s absence could force the club to consider external alternatives at right-back.
The Gunners have explored the possibility of signing Paris Saint-Germain defender Thomas Meunier but reports in France suggest the Ligue 1 champions are demanding £30m, a figure which would almost certainly be beyond Arsenal given their modest transfer budget of around £40m, excluding player sales.
Meanwhile, according to the Express, the Gunners are set to make Martinelli their first signing of the summer window. The youngster will cost Arsenal six million pounds and will join the club when he turns 18. Martinelli has been monitored by European clubs since the age of 12 and even had trials at Manchester United and Barcelona.
However, Unai Emery’s side look to have beaten off competition for the attacker’s signature and Gunners fans will be hoping the signing signals a flurry of transfer business from the club. Martinelli will want to replicate the success of Brazilian stars like Neymar and Gabriel Jesus who have all impressed since moving to Europe while relatively young.
Last year was an impressive season for Martinelli who found the back of the net six times in the Paulista Championship with the former Corinthians futsal player helping Ituano top group D. Although they were knocked out by in the quarter-finals by Sao Paulo, Martinelli was named the tournament’s young player of the season and awarded a spot in their team of the year. To top off what was an outstanding breakthrough year, he was called up by Brazil manager Tite to train with the country’s senior team.
Clearly an immensely talented footballer, it will be interesting to see whether he will play any part with the senior team next season or if he will return on loan to Ituano. According to the Express, Martinelli qualifies for an Italian passport through his father which means the Gunners will not need to go to the trouble of securing him a work permit which will certainly help them finalise the deal.
The player’s agent Marcos Casseb recently told Globo Esporte of Martinelli’s ambition to play in Europe and it now appears that his dream is about to be come true. “To be honest we expected this to happen,” Casseb said. “His evolution since last year is very fast, he is above average. “The initial planning is for him to go straight to Europe.”