After a sixth place finish in the Premier League standings and a season’s worth of spotty goalkeeping, Arsenal find themselves in need of a new keeper. With underwhelming performances from Petr Cech and David Ospina, Gunners fans appear eager for a change of the guard.
Encouragingly, Arsenal are already on the move, reportedly targeting German goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who currently lines up for Bayer Leverkusen.
Arsenal have been hell-bent on fielding porous defences the past few years, so their keenness on shelling out money to plug one of the holes is a good sign. However, Arsenal may be misguided here, as they are prepared to offer a not-insignificant price for a relatively risky option.
Leno has a decent pedigree. After spending two seasons at Stuttgart, Leno made the transfer to Leverkusen in 2011 and has remained ever since. He has provided a steady presence too making 304 appearances for the club.
The German has proven he can be a primary goalkeeper for a club over the course of the full season, but he’s also proven that a constant presence isn’t always a reliable one. Leno has garnered a reputation for making errors, a possible reason he was left out of the Germany squad for the 2018 World Cup.
Germany are one of the best teams in the world and will carry three other great goalkeepers, but are Arsenal really in a place where they should be targeting a goalkeeper who couldn’t crack his national team’s squad, despite playing in his current prime aged 26?
Arsenal shouldn’t cut corners and settle. There is a far better option, and he plays right here in their home country. Jordan Pickford has played just one season for Everton, but he should be the Gunners’ clear option for the 2018-19 season.
One aspect that makes Pickford a better option than Leno is that he’ll have a chance to prove himself in Russia over the next few weeks. Backing up one of the youngest squads in the 32-team competition, teams will have their opportunities to get shots off at Pickford. How well he’ll fare for the Three Lions will play a weighty role in determining what kind of options he’ll have come late July.
Even though Pickford is just 24 years old, he’s shown his worth as a Premier League goalie. In 38 appearances for the eighth-place Toffees last season, Pickford racked up 121 saves and recorded ten clean sheets. Given his promise as a young goalkeeper, Everton have all the reason to make him their man for years to come. That, and Gareth Southgate’s confidence in making Pickford England’s go-to keeper for the World Cup, will combine to make his price a lofty one – far more than the £27million Transfermarkt currently value him at.
But again, Arsenal are in a delicate place here after such a disappointing 2017/18 season, that saw them struggle against big six rivals. In their ten games against the likes of Man City, Man United, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea, Arsenal conceded 21 goals and scored just 10. They recorded just two clean sheets in those games and gave up an average of 2.1 goals per match. Acquiring a reliable goalkeeper, one they could have for the foreseeable future, would help them catch up to the elite competition where they belong.
England will play at least three games in Russia, and they have a good chance of advancing to the knockout round and even the quarterfinals. Pickford will have the biggest of stages to showcase why he deserves a big transfer fee, and Arsenal need be tuned in.
So, Arsenal fans, which goalkeeper would you like to see your club sign this summer? Let us know by voting below…
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