Tag Archives: David Ospina

Who could replace Petr Cech as Arsenal number 2?

Arsenal goal keeper Petr Cech has announced his plan to retire from football at the end of the season.

Regardless of his retirement Cech was always leaving Arsenal at the end of the season with his contract expiring.

Earning £100,000 a week, Arsenal will now look to reinvest some of that in a new number 2 to back up Bernd Leno. So who are the 5 top candidates?

Fraser Forster

It does not feel too long ago that many Arsenal fans were calling for Fraser Forster to replace Cech as Arsenal’s Number 1.

Capped 6 times for England, he was England Number 2 at both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, behind Joe Hart.

His form fell away in 2016 having returned from a series knee injury the season previous.

Inconsistent performances led him to have one of the worst save/shot ratio amongst Premier League goalkeepers during the 2016/17. However he still managed to keep 14 clean sheets.

In  July 2017, Forster signed a new five-year contract, his indifferent form, however, continued into the new season. Forster  was eventually dropped from the team in December 2017, replaced in goal by Alex McCarthy He has not played for Southampton since.

He is currently 3rd choice behind McCarthy and Angus Gunn.

There would be many benefits to signing Forster.

He would be a cheap option, is Premier League and Champions League proven and is home-grown. At 30-years-old, he has the experience and quality to come in for Leno if he were to get injured. He would also see going from Southampton number 3, to Arsenal number 2 a step up. The question mark over him would be surrounding his form.

Having not played for a over a year, what condition is he in?

Jack Butland

Like Forster, Jack Butland was at one point many fans favourite to replace Joe Hart as England number 1.

He has remained with Stoke City in the Championship despite their relegation. He has been critical of the club, branding their transfer policy as ‘farcical’.

At 25-years-old, he probably still desires a return to being a Premier League number 1. It was only last summer that Liverpool were ‘closing in’ on the signing Butland for a world record fee of £40million for a goalkeeper, according to media reports.

Butland’s conundrum next summer will be whether he joins a relegation outfit as their number 1, or decides to be a number 2 at a top club.

When you look at the Premier League, Butland would not start for a top 6 club. Watford (currently in 7th) might see him as a long term replacement to Ben Foster, beyond that, he is not really much better than what Leicester City (Schmeichel), west Ham (Fabianski), Everton (Pickford), Wolves (Rui Patricio). That would then leave Bournemouth (in 12th) and below vying for his signature.

Would Arsenal number 2 be more attractive than being a regular starter for a team struggling at the bottom of the table? Perhaps.

Like Forster, he is Premier League proven and home-grown.

Could be expensive though.

David Ospina

When Bernd Leno joined the club, it was David Ospina who made way as Arsenal were unable to accommodate 3 senior goal keepers.

He joined Napoli last summer on a one-year loan deal with an option to buy following new signing Alex Meret’s injury. The 21-year-old Italian picked up an injury during one of his first training sessions at the club following a £30 million arrival.

It is unlikely that Ospina will be Napoli number 1 next season, with the club having invested so heavily in Meret, however they still might trigger the release clause and make him their number two. They still have Greek vetran Orestis Karnezis at the club as well.

That will leave Ospina with a decision.

Either remain at Arsenal as number 2 and see out the last year of his contract, or join Napoli as their number 2.

I would not be too upset to see Ospina stay.

Damian Martinez

It is incredible to think that Argentian Damian Martinez was in goal when Arsenal beat Reading 7-5 back in 2012. He has played just 12 times since that game.

He will be 27-years-old early next season, and his career is passing him by.

Some fans will see it as “his chance next” to be Arsenal number 2, however the club need to be clinical in their decision making.

A number 2 goal keeper has to be number 1 quality.

Picture the scenario. The transfer window is shut; 1st game of the season Leno gets injured. Out for a year. Whoever is number 2 is now de facto number 1. Would you trust Martinez to play in goal for 37?

The fact he has played so little would show that the club do not rate him high enough.

When you look at the 2nd choice goal keepers at other top 6 sides, all are internationals with experience as top tier first choice keeper.

Manchester United have the Argentinean number one (Romero) and Chelsea their number 2 (Willy Caballero) . Manchester City can call on Chilean legend Claudio Bravo whilst Liverpool have Simon Mignolet. Tottenham have former Swansea number 1 and Dutch international Michel Vorm.

Back in 2014, Arsenal decided to sign Ospina instead of promote the then 22-year-old Martinez to number 2 behind Cech.

Has he improved much since then? Who knows.

Martinez has struggled to play consistently on his various loan deals. If he is not good enough to start in the Championship, he is not good enough for the Premier League.

The same can be said for Matt Macey who is currently performing well at League One Plymouth Argyle.

The likely scenario is that Martinez or Macey is Arsenal’s third choice goal keeper next year, with neither being good enough to become 2nd choice.

Nick Pope

Sean Dyche recently commented that his Burnley side have 3 very good goal keepers.

Joe Hart has been number 1 for much of the season, although he has recently lost his place to club captain Tom Heaton. Last season following Heaton’s injury, Nick Pope stepped up as number 1 and was was named in the 23-man England squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after his good form.

Hart, Heaton and Pope have all been capped by England in the last 18 months. It is clear that Burnley can not keep all 3 at the club.

Pope is the one most likely to leave, having not played in the Premier League this season.

He could be a solid back up for Bernd Leno, providing Premier League experience. Would be a cheaper option that Jack Butland.


Arsenal facing goalkeeper crisis

Arsenal are facing a goalkeeping crisis.

Bernd Leno has been a top signing and has established himself as Arsenal number one ahead of Petr Cech.

At the end of this season Petr Cech’s contract expires. Arsenal have a decision to make whether to offer the veteran stopper a new contract or let him see out his career in France or back in the Czech Republic.

On loan at Napoli is David Ospina. The Colombian’s contract with Arsenal is not due to expire until 2020.

If Arsenal decide to dispense with the services of Cech, it would make sense that Arsenal keep Ospina as number 2 next season.

The huge problem is beyond that. Arsenal do not have a natural number 2 coming through.

Current Arsenal number 3 is Damian Martinez.

The Argentine goal keeper is now 26 and made his Arsenal debut 6 years ago. He will never be good enough to step up to number 2 at Arsenal. To be a number 2 at a top club, you have to be good enough to play 38 Premier League games.

Imagine the scenario; Leno get’s injured in the first game of the season. Out of for entire campaign. A number 2 needs to be able to step up into the role of number 1. Martinez is not that.

Arsenal’s number 2 is currently Cech. Manchester United have Argentine number 1 Sergio Romero. Chelsea with Argentina number 2 Willy Caballero.

Manchester City’s number 2 is Claudio Bravo, who spent 2 years as Barcelona number 1 and was Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Simon Mignolet is Liverpool’s number 2. He has played over 200 times for the club, and Tottenham have Michel Vorm who has played over 100 times in the Premier League.

Even Everton have a solid second choice keeper in former Dutch number 1 Maarten Stekelenburg.

In summary, to be a number 2 at a top club you need to be an experienced goal keeper, an international. Martinez is neither of these.

Behind Martinez is Matt Macey. The tall Englishman is now in his mid-20s.

Macey is performing well at Plymouth, but it is doubtful if he would have what it takes to be Arsenal Number 2. I would expect him to replace Martinez as number 3 next season.

So moving into 2019/20, I would expect our 3 goal keepers to be Leno, Cech / Ospina, Martinez / Macey.

The crisis Arsenal are facing is below first team level.

According to the club website, we have one goal keeper in our academy. 23-year-old Macedonian Deyan Iliev. He is another, like Macey and Martinez, who does not have what it takes to make it to the top.

After Iliev, the next goal keeper in line is talented 17-year-old Arthur Okonkwo.

Okonkwo has a bright future, with many who watch the youth teams claiming he is the best young keeping prospect we have had since Wojciech Szczesny. But he is 17. He is still a baby in goal keeping terms.

There is a 6 year age gap between Iliev and Okonkwo and Arsenal need to fill that gap.

Over the last 12 months, Arsenal have released a lot of goal keepers who had previously filled this gap.

Joao Virginia joined Everton this summer. The 19-year-old was rated by many at the club. Arsenal also released Ryan Huddart (21), Hugo Keto (20) and Alex Crean (19). These 4 goal keepers leaving have left a huge gap between Iliev and Okonkwo – and an even bigger talent gap between Cech as Number 2 and Okonkwo at the bottom end.

Last summer Arsenal signed Estonian Karl Jakob Hein. He is just 16 and was signed to fill the gap behind Okonkwo.

Over the summer, what Arsenal need to do is fill the gap between Iliev and Okonkwo.

It is likely that Iliev will leave, alongside either Martinez or Macey. That will mean 8 years between Macey and Okonkwo.

Sven Mislintat’s scouting team, and the youth scouts, will be scouring the UK and Europe for the top 21 year old goal keepers.

Someone (or even 2) that could come in and take the place of Iliev in the U23 team. Someone who within 12 months could be putting pressure on Macey or Martinez to become Arsenal number 3. You would be looking at them being 20-22.

It will be a challenge to find someone.

You will not be able to sign someone currently doing bits in a senior team. It is unlikely they would be happy stepping down from first team football to academy football – unless that are outside the top leagues in Europe.

You could pull a first team goal keeper from Poland or Norway, for example, but you are not going to be able to target someone like Alban Lafont from Fiorentina.

Although Arsenal might completely rip up the structure of the club and target someone like Lafont or Bartłomiej Dragowski (another Fiorentina youngster) and have them fill the duel role of Arsenal U23 keeper, and Arsenal 3rd choice keeper.

Arsenal will address the skills gap in young goal keepers this summer. It will not be a major signing, but it will be someone who can come in at U23 level and push for the first team squad within 12 months.


2 IN; 3 OUT at Arsenal

With the transfer window slamming shut on Thursday, all has been quiet at Arsenal surrounding who is potentially coming in.

With the transfer window still be open throughout Europe until the end of the month, we will probably not see a mass exodus of players this week, however it will be the last chance for English clubs to bring anyone in.

In a surprising deal, it looks like Calum Chambers is set to join Fulham on a season long loan deal.

There was plenty of speculation that Chambers was going to join the West London club earlier in the summer. But a new contract and reports that Unai Emery was impressed in the Englishman seemed to quash that deal.

One of the few players to have played every game in pre-season, Chambers departure is very surprising, especially considering the long-term injury to Laurent Koscielny.

At the back end of last season, he was ahead of Rob Holding and Kostadinos Mavropanos, and this pre-season has played more minutes than the pair. He was clearly 3rd choice centre back, and also provided additional cover at right back.

He will be 24-years-old in January and has already had a season long loan deal to Middlesbrough. It just feels like a strange move. The only reasoning is that someone else is coming in.

Lucas Perez has been like a yoyo this summer. Early indications were that Emery was going to give him a second chance. He failed to start any of our 5 pre-season games

Both Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson started three games a-piece and looked good. Emery seems to have decided to give them more chances in the first team squad at the sacrifice of 29-year-old Perez.

Perez was not even in the match day squad for the games against Chelsea in Dublin or Lazio in Stockholm. He has been heavily linked with the latter (Lazio) and more recently West Ham.

Having been at the World Cup, David Ospina was already facing a handicap when it came to the battle with Petr Cech to be new signing Bernd Leno’s competition.

Leno stared 3 out of 5, with Cech starting the other two.

With Cech having one-year left on his contract, he seems content to stay in London where has been for 14 years and the city where his children have grown up, regardless of being number 2.

That leaves Ospina as the man most likely to leave.

He has been linked with a move to Turkey every since his second season with Arsenal; and it seems this year will be when it finally happens. Some outlets are reporting it is a loan deal, others a permanent deal. £2,000,000 the mooted feed.

The only logical reason for Chambers to be leaving is that we are going to make a last minute signing at centre back.

There has been massive speculation this morning that Arsenal are in for Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng.

Emery has been quoted a few times saying that “if something special becomes available, we will be in for him”. Could Boateng be that something special?

The reported £45million fee is relatively cheap in the current transfer market. Arsenal would be getting one of the best 5 centre backs in the world who, at 29-years-old, would add experience and power at the back.

The only concern would be his injury record. In the last few years, he has started to accrue a few muscle injuries.

He nearly missed the World Cup after a hamstring injury and did not look 100% during Germany’s early exit. He also suffered a hamstring injury in 2017, and has failed to play 20 Bundesliga games in the last 3 seasons.

Munich could be looking to cash in on someone who is broken, and will never be repaired. Alternatively Arsenal could end up with a top centre back with another 4 seasons in him.

There is also an outside chance that Arsenal could bring in Ousmane Dembele on loan, with the possibility of a permanent deal if Aaron Ramsey leaves.

Reports have claimed that the 21-year-old has been concerned over his role at Barcelona following the eclub’s decision to sign Brazilian winger Malcom from Bordeaux this summer.

Dembele has been heavily linked with a switch to Arsenal this summer as he still has a strong relationship with the Gunners’ head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, who he knows from his time at Dortmund. Last week, Dembele was also pictured having dinner with several members of Arsenal’s squad including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Reports from Spain are that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has personally assured Ousmane Dembele that he still has a future at the club, goning out of his way to speak to the France international.

All in all, bar the Chambers deal going through today, it will likely be a quiet week for Arsenal, with Perez and Ospina set to move closer towards the end of August.