By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Hector Bellerin has been hailed by Arsene Wenger as one of the finest right-backs in the world.
The 20-year-old Spaniard delivered a masterclass for Arsenal in their 3-1 FA Cup third-round victory over Sunderland on Saturday.
With the score 1-1 late in the second half, Bellerin set up Aaron Ramsey for the Gunners’ second goal with a searing run and excellent cross.
Bellerin then repeated the trick minutes later, with a pin-point pass to Olivier Giroud to seal the win and extend Arsenal’s excellent run in the competition.
Asked afterwards if Bellerin was one of the best players in his position, Wenger replied: “Of course (he is among the best). Look at the defensive and offensive numbers. The fact that he is only 20 years old, there is a lot more to come from him.
“He became stronger and stronger during the game. Sometimes I felt in the last 20 minutes, every time he went forward he created a chance on goal.”
Bellerin has emerged as the undisputed first-choice right-back at Emirates Stadium since being fast-tracked into the team little over a year ago in the wake of a serious injury to Mathieu Debuchy.
The Frenchman is set to leave the club on loan this month in search of regular first-team football, with Aston Villa and Roma among the clubs keen on signing him.
The Gunners won the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015 and have not lost for 14 matches in a competition that Wenger has won six times during his time in north London.