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Hector Bellerin Out For 9 Months, So Where Should Arsenal Turn?

Arsenal confirmed on Tuesday that right back Hector Bellerin suffered a ruptured ACL on his left knee. The injury rules out the Gunners starter for six to nine months, ending his season and even putting into doubt his availability for the start of the 2019-20 Premier League campaign. 

With limited options available and Unai Emery stating that the club could not buy any players in the January transfer window, what should Arsenal do? Here are four options. 

#1. Best Player Available

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is only 21 and has already played left back, right midfielder and right back for Arsenal over the past two seasons. His versatility and stamina have made him an attractive option for both Arsene Wenger and Emery. Right midfield is likely AMN's best long term position, but he has proven a capable right back when tested there.

His ability to cope with speedy opponents and the experience he will get from the additional starts makes him the ideal candidate for the rest of the season. 

#2. Experience

Stephan Lichtsteiner was brought in last summer as support to Bellerin. The 35-year-old right back is full of experience from Juventus and Lazio, and he brings a bit of the dark arts that Arsenal lacks at times. But the plan was for Lichtsteiner to come in during cup ties, Europa League group games and occasional EPL matches.

As this season has shown, he doesn't have the fitness level to play a full 90 week in, week out. Lichtsteiner will definitely get starts between now and May, however, he shouldn't be seen as the best option today, nor a part of Arsenal's plans for next season. 

#3. Test Youth

Looking further down the depth chart, if Emery wants to test his academy products over Lichtsteiner, Jordi Osei-Tutu is the perfect candidate. 20 years old, the young English right back has featured for the U-23s in Premier League 2, including the 5-1 win over Manchester City's U-23 side.

Osei-Tutu clearly isn't ready to start in the Premier League or Europa League, but he may see time in the match day 18, on the bench, in case of emergency. This window provides him the chance to show if he is capable of jumping to the first team next year, making it easier for the club to turn down the contract option for Lichtsteiner. 

#4. Free Transfers

Emery stated that the club cannot buy players in January, only loans. However, they could pick up a player on a free transfer. There are limited options of right backs sitting free who could possibly contribute at this level. There are two options: 

First, 33-year-old Spaniard Jesus Gamez. He was most recently at Newcastle, however, he spent most of his career in LaLiga, where he racked up over 200 appearances. He isn't that different from Lichtsteiner, but even on a six-month deal to see the season through, Gamez could prove useful. 

Second, and even more of a wild card, Wallace Oliveira. From Brazil and 24, he comes from the loan army of Chelsea. Originally signed by the Blues in 2013, Wallace was loaned out four times. He lacks playing time, but on a free deal, and likely low wages, it might be worth a six-month test to see if he warrants a longer deal. 

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