The News of the World has reported that an Ajax insider has stated “I know there’s an English club interested in the goalkeeper, for sure.”
Arsene Wenger’s pursuit of Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has yet to yield fruit, and the Gunners boss may look to other options as he looks to strengthen one of the main areas of weakness in the Arsenal side. Arsene Wenger appears to have finally lost faith in Manuel Almunia, something many Arsenal fans had long since done. With Lukasz Fabianski far from impressive, a new goalkeeper is seen as an essential acquisition if Arsenal are to mount a challenge for the Premier League. The prospect of Mark Schwarzer has failed to ignite the passions of the Arsenal faithful, the potential signing of Maarten Stekelenburg however, may well prove a far more welcome transfer link.
Few goalkeepers stood out during this summers World Cup, but if anyone did, it was Maarten Stekelenburg. The Ajax stopper was hugely impressive as his Dutch side reached the final, a match in which he pulled off a number of spectacular saves before finally being beaten by Andres Iniesta in extra-time. As well as being a good shot-stopper, Stekelenburg stands at 6ft 5 and is a commanding presence in the box. This is an attribute that Arsenal goalkeepers have lacked since the departure of fans favourite Jens Lehmann in 2008. Stekelenburg has international and European experience, and at 27 is still likely to have his best years ahead of him. The Dutchman would also probably cost relatively little, a fact that Wenger will undoubtedly value. If indeed Stekelenburg did make the move to North London, it would most likely prove a shrewd dealing on behalf of Arsene Wenger.
There are alternatives, although Stekelenburg may well be the best option. Despite performing well last season at Fulham, it is questionable whether the 37 year-old Mark Schwarzer can make the step up to a side hoping to challenge for the league title. French number one Hugo Lloris has already established himself as one of the top goalkeepers in Europe and is set for a great future in the game. The price tag however, may prove to be prohibitive. CSKA Moscow’s talented young ‘keeper Igor Akinfeev has long been linked with a move to England, though with other parties rumoured to be interested, the transfer fee may be too large for Wenger’s liking. Schalke 04’s Manuel Neuer could be another option after impressing for Germany in the World Cup. Maarten Stekelenburg, excluding Schwarzer, is likely to be the cheapest of these options however, and having proven his ability on the biggest stage is an enticing transfer prospect for Arsenal supporters. Arsene Wenger’s dealings in the transfer market though, are rarely predictable, and until a player signs on the dotted line, few would bet money on a certain footballer signing for Arsenal.