Lots of rumours doing the rounds that Bernd Leno has decided his time in London has reached a natural end and he is looking for a return to Germany.
None of these rumours have yet to be confirmed by any reliable journalist, so at the moment it is just ideal speculation, but there is usually no smoke without fire.
Leno joined the club in 2018 on a five-year deal from Bayer Leverkusen for £19.2million. He has two-years left on that deal.
The speculation is that he does not want to renew his contract. That the 2 years remaining will take him to 31-years-old at point he would have spent 5 years in England.
That leaves Arsenal in a predicament.
Do we cash in this summer, recouping the fee and reinvesting? Do we keep him for another year before selling him in 2022 for a much lower fee? Or do we look to hang on to him for the duration of his contract, happy to lose him for nothing in 2 years time?
A lot has changed at Arsenal since Leno joined.
In 2018 Arsenal were very “German heavy”.
Leno was signed to the club by German Sven Mislintat, joining compatriots Meust Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi. Also at the club was German-born-Bosnian Sead Kolašinac.
Also at the club were Granit Xhaka, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; all of whom had spent some time in the Bundesliga.
And the day after Leno’s signing was confirmed, he was joined by Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund.
Three years later and Ozil, Mustafi, Kolašinac, Mkhitaryan and Sokratis have all left the club – leaving just Xhaka and Aubameyang. Neither Aubameyang or Xhaka are likely to be here beyond 2023 (when Leno’s contract expires).
Arsenal is now a very different place, with a very different squad make up.
So it is only natural that Leno is looking around the dressing room, seeing the German-speaking contingent diminish and questioning his own future.
The club backed Leno over Emi Martinez last summer – with the Argentine keeper refusing to sign a new contract unless guaranteed the number one shirt.
Some argued at the time that Arsenal had got rid of the wrong man, but it would have been hard for the club to back a keeper with barely 20 starts under his belt against a man with nearly 300.
With these rumours circulating, those “Martinez fans” will come back out of the woodwork and say “I told you so”. But the reality is neither Leno or Martinez have had a particularly good season.
Both have made a few mistakes leading to goals, and had Martinez made the errors for Aston Villa in an Arsenal shirt we would be talking this summer about upgrading on him.
So what is the solution to Leno?
Well we could keep him for another season, promising to allow him to leave next season. But his form has not been great and this could be an ideal time to cut our losses and look to upgrade.
It would not be a surprise if Arsenal signed Mat Ryan on a free transfer in a deal that would be similar to Cedric last year – IE get the player in on loan for 6 months before signing him.
Ryan is a solid keeper and will make a great choice as number 2, but he is probably not good enough for number one.
Wojciech Szczęsny has been linked in recent weeks. But he is still error-prone, making another gaff for Juventus last weekend. There is a reason the Italian giants are looking to get rid.
Ajax’s André Onana is a name that has been mentioned a few times in recent weeks. He could be available for as little as £7million.
The 25-year-old is currently serving a 12-month suspension which is due to last until February 2022, having tested positive for Furosemide following an out-of-competition test.
Onana has always maintained that he accidentally took medicine that was prescribed for his wife and the Dutch Association of Professional Footballers has condemned the length of the ban as “disproportionate” and “incomprehensible”.
I have always maintained a zero tolerance stance to doping – you get caught once you should get a life ban.
Regardless of whether Onana took the medication “accidently” he should take ultimate responsibility of what goes into his body – like those who claim they ate “tainted meat”.
Onana would also not be the first sportsman to claim he “accidently” took a drug, and the concern is Furosemide is a masking agent. So if he took it deliberately, what was he hiding?
The interesting part of the Onana story is that Arsenal were looking to bring him in in January as Leno’s understudy prior to his ban.
Were Arsenal preparing a bid for him because they were already aware of Leno’s reported unhappiness? Or do they class him as a number 2 rather than first choice?
I am sure as the rumours of Leno’s impending departure continues, we will be linked to a lot more names…