Arsene Wenger has finally (and I say this with some meaning) declared that goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is free to leave the club when the January window opens…thank god!
Wenger broke the news late last night, after deciding that the 33-year-old Spaniard is no longer the first choice goalkeeper at the club, and should look for some first-team action elsewhere this winter. A source today told Goal.com:
‘Wenger does not see him as his long-term number one and believes that, at his age, Almunia deserves to be playing regular first-team football.’
They finish off by saying:
‘Almunia has been told he can leave in January if he finds a club willing to meet Arsenal’s valuation.’
That valuation is thought to be around the £1.5 million mark, which could have several clubs interested in the goalkeeper’s services, one being financial stricken Atletico Madrid.
I can’t tell you how happy I am hearing this news. It may have come later than expected, but I for one will be glad to see Almunia depart the Emirates this winter. Manuel Almunia made a number of silly errors earlier on in the season, and as a result has been dropped down the pecking order in the goalkeeper department, behind his protégé Lukasz Fabianski and even youngster Wojciech Szczesny. However, with his imminent departure on the cards this January, does, or better yet, has Wenger lined up a suitable replacement for the Spaniard?
So far this season, Lukasz Fabianski has done a tremendous job for us between the sticks, and has rightly earned his spot in the starting XI. However, with the experienced keeper (Almunia) on his way out, I feel (and many fans will agree) that Wenger has to bring in a more experienced shot-stopper to teach, and hand down knowledge to Fabianski to aide his development further.
Arsenal have been linked with several goalkeepers already this November, Middlesbrough’s Jason Steele has been mentioned a fair few times in the past, and just recently Blackpool’s Matt Gilks has also been thrown into the mixer. These two goalkeepers’ may be good, but they are not one’s who attain bags of experience under their belts. Nonetheless, this will be Wenger’s call to make, personally, I’m just glad to hear that Manuel Almunia will be walking in the winter window wonderland (no pun intended).
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