Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin has expressed his desire to represent Spain in the coming Euro Under 21 Championship, even though Arsene Wenger has asked him to rest over the summer. The Spain international spoke to IBTimes UK after coming off the bench to help his side beat Manchester City 2-1 on Sunday (23 April), setting up a FA Cup final with Chelsea.
Bellerin has been one of the Gunners' key figures over the last two campaigns, but was recently the subject of fan opprobrium following the 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.
Wenger came to his defence following that game, but urged the Spaniard to take a much-needed rest in the summer, admitting he had struggled to recover completely from the ankle injury that kept him sidelined for five weeks last year.
"He has not come back to his level since he has been injured. I think for a while he was [still feeling his ankle]," Wenger at the time.
"It is not ideal after a long season," Wenger sighed when asked about it at his press conference on Friday morning. "He should have a rest and prepare for next season. The Spanish players love to play for their country, and I think he will go as he loves to play for Spain."
However, asked by IBTimes UK whether he would follow his boss's advice, Bellerin said: "No. I really want to play in European Under 21. Representing Spain is very important. If [Spain Under 21 manager Alert] Celades gives me the chance I'll be there,
"Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I'll try to prove it when I get the chance."
Wenger dropped the Spaniard to the bench for the recent wins over Middlesbrough and Manchester City, plumping for Alex Oxlade Chamberlain instead in a new 3-4-3 formation. Bellerin understands that nobody is irreplaceable but promises to fight for his place in the final weeks of the season.
"I am here for when the manager needs me," Bellerin after coming off the bench in the FA Cup semi-final win over City. "With the change of the formation there are other players who also have the opportunity to do well. Oxlade has proven it [against City] and he has done it very well. Now I am waiting for my chance.
"When there is a change of formation it's normal for some players to be sacrificed. Not only me. There were more. But I am ready to play in every formation and wherever, I will be ready for when the boss decides to give me the opportunity."