The two transfers that were announced as imminent were completed late on Tuesday, the final day of the summer transfer window. Hector Bellerin has left the club to join Real Betis on loan, and Tahekiro Tomiyasu has arrived on a permanent deal from Bologna. Also, goalkeeper Alex Runarsson has joined Belgian side OH Leuven on loan.
The decade Bellerin spent at the Emirates has been marked by 239 first-team appearances, three FA Cup trophies and two Community Shields. There can be no doubt that the Spaniard gave all he had, even though his efforts were severely hampered by injuries. There is also a strange feeling that his time as an Arsenal player coincides with a period of the club gradually losing ground on their Premier League rivals, though that can hardly be put on his account.
Be that as it may, Bellerin will spend the 2021-22 season with Betis, and there is no option for the La Liga side to make the deal permanent at the end of the campaign. When he returns, his contract with Arsenal will enter its final year, and it will be interesting to see what happens then.
As for Tomiyasu, the Japan international will be another option in defence. He usually plays on the right, as a centre-back or a fullback, and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is likely to use his qualities in both positions. The club will be paying an initial fee of £16m for the services of the 23-year-old, with add-ons to come on top.
It remains to be seen to what extent Tomiyasu’s presence helps Arsenal in terms of improving the overall defending. It feels like we’ve been overexcited about new defenders before; some expected David Luiz to make a huge difference upon arriving from Chelsea, others believed Pablo Mari would be the leader the back line often seems to lack. Neither exactly lived up to such expectations, and the Arsenal defence seems as drafty as ever.
But the fact remains that Arteta has got two new centre-backs in Tomiyasu and Ben White, both young and talented, and both in high demand before they were snapped up by Arsenal. Let’s see what he makes of them.