Mikel Arteta explains his ‘tricky’ relationship with Hector Bellerin at Arsenal

Arsenal Training Session
Hector Bellerin and Mikel Arteta have a close but complicated relationship (Picture: Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta says his relationship with Hector Bellerin has had to change since he took over as Arsenal manager, with the Gunners full-back describing his fellow Spaniard as like a big brother to him in the past.

Bellerin and Arteta played together at Arsenal, with the defender making his first team debut at the club when the midfielder was a senior player in the side.

The 25-year-old has explained how Arteta helped him develop and mature as a player during a time when distractions were abundant.

‘I’d only been at Arsenal for a couple of years, Mikel was one of the captains in the dressing room, he was part of this Spanish speaking group that we had and he really did look after me,’ Bellerin said in the documentary Unseen Journey.

”When I was young, I was a bit naughty, started getting money, I started meeting girls, started going out, all these things that everyone does at that age.

‘But not everyone has the responsibility that I had at that time, starting to play for Arsenal first team.

‘He was like a big brother, when I did something wrong, he looked at me and I was like: “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that.” Sometimes you need people to be honest with you.’

Chelsea v Arsenal - FA Community Shield
Hector Bellerin and Mikel Arteta, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs lifting the Community Shield in 2015 (Picture: Getty Images)

Arteta does not disagree with Bellerin, but says he now has to take on a new role as his manager.

He is clearly there to help him and guide him still, but changing from teammate to boss can be difficult.

‘If you asked me that question a few years ago I’d probably say if he is the way he is it’s nice because we had a really strong relationship and I tried to help him as much as I could,’ Arteta told a press conference. ‘Now it’s a different relationship.

‘Obviously, when you know the person and you know the professional, it’s easier to help them because you know how he feels, you know what he needs and how to get the best out of him.

‘It’s true that this season he’s found much more consistency, he’s been available in many more matches and hopefully, he’s now forgotten the last two years when injuries meant he wasn’t able to play as much.

‘It’s a very tricky one. You can’t change your feelings towards somebody but then you have to be fair, you have to be really demanding as well, and it has to be a space that has to be shared and lived in in a different way between a player and a manager.

‘It doesn’t mean that your feelings are different towards the person.’

Bellerin has started 22 of Arsenal’s 25 Premier League games this season as he enjoys a pretty clear run from injury this season, but he also faces competition from Cedris Soares and a returning Calum Chambers at right-back.

‘I think everybody has to compete with each other,’ said Arteta. ‘I think Cedric has done really well.

‘We’ve got Calum now that has been training really well in the last three to four weeks as well and looks completely ready to step in so everybody has to play at their best level and we’re going to have to rotate players as well with the amount of games that we have.’

Arsenal take on Benfica at the Emirates at 5.55pm UK time on Thursday in the Europa League.

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