Tag Archives: jack butland

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.

Keenos

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Who should Arsenal target this summer?

On Friday, we dissected the squad to look at what we actually need in the summer to improve the first team and squad. From this, it was a common consensus that Arsenal need:

  1. A first choice goal keeper
  2. A first choice centre back
  3. A first choice defensive midfielder
  4. A squad winger

So I was then asked the above.

Simply put, who should Arsenal sign?

We were already working on a blog to discuss this, putting potential signings into 4 categories:

  1. Money no object
  2. Realistic signing
  3. Realistic signing
  4. Budget option

With the help of EastLondonGooner, we completed the list. Here are the players who would make up our fantasy target list:

Money No Object

Jan Oblak  – Goalkeeper

The Atletico Madrid goalkeeper has been one of the most consistent in Europe over the last 2 and a half years.

Atletico paid €16 million for the Slovenian international in 2014. The 25 year old would be a big money signing, his release clause is reported at €100m, but would be first choice keeper for the next 10 years.

Samuel Umtiti – Centreback

Barcelona are starting to worry that the French centreback has a £54m release clause is too low. And in the current market it probably is.

Umtiti is just 6 months older than Manchester City’s new record signing Aymeric Laporte – who cost City £57m. Umtiti also keeps his compatriot out of the national side.

A left footed, left sided centre back, he would provide great balance to Shkodran Mustafi on the right hand side.

Sual Niguez – Defensive Midfielder

I am a massive fan of Saul Niguez for a few years.. The Atletico Madrid player is a terrific player. He is an all action central midfielder, reminding me a lot of Steven Gerrard. He can defend, he can attack. He can pass, he can score.

For Atletico, he tends to play in a more advanced position, but this is due to their defensive approach to the game. At an attacking side like Arsenal, he would have the skills and ability to adapt to playing deeper.

Would Atletico Madrid let him go? Certainly not easily, but they are traditionally a club who have to sell before they buy. With Diego Simeone set to leave Madrid this summer, there might be an exodus to follow.

Could a deal involving Alexandre Lacazette be of interest?

Thomas Lemar – Winger

Arsenal had a £90m deal for the young Frenchman collapse on the summer 2017 deadline day. Interest was not renewed in him in January as Arsenal instead secured Henrik Mkhitaryan as replacement for Alexis Sanchez.

Having also signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and with Mesut Ozil signing a new contract, I would be surprised if Arsenal re-enter the race for Thomas Lemar. It would be a lot of money spent on a player who would not be guaranteed a start (unless Arsenal return to 4231).

Realistic Signing

Jack Butland – Goalkeeper

The Stoke City stopped became the the youngest goalkeeper to play for the senior England team when he made his debut in August 2012.

6 years on and he seems to have recovered from the ankle injury which same him miss almost all of the 2016/17 season.

25 years old, 6ft 5in and English, it would take Arsenal back to the days of David Seaman having England’s number 1 (which I am sure he will be at this summers World Cup).

Kostas Manolas – Centreback

Arsenal reportedly failed with 2 deadline day deals. One of which was allegedly for long-term target Manolas.

The Greek centreback has been on Arsenal’s radar since 2015, could 2018 be the year Arsenal finally secure their man?

Fabinho  – Defensive Midfielder

The Brazilian was heavily linked with Manchester United in the summer, but with Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Tiémoué Bakayoko leaving, Monaco managed to hold on to both Fabinho and Thomas Lemar.

This summer will see sides go in for the pair again, and this time it might be Fabinho who is top of Arsenal’s wish list, rather than Thomas Lemar.

Malcom – Winger

A deal for Malcom to Arsenal would have been completed in January if the Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang deals did not present themselves.

Arsenal pulled away from the deal, but this could be a temporary measure. If has given the club an additional 6 months to look at and monitor the talented young winger.

A deal for around £25m could be completed early in the summer.

Realistic Signing (2)

Alban Lafont – Goalkeeper

When it comes to young goal keepers, all the talk is about AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, but at just 19 years old, Frenchman Lafont is quietly building a reputation for himself.

Already with over 90 first team games, this is his 3rd season as Toulouse’s number one.

With Petr Cech having one more year on his contract, a move for Lafont would be great for succession planning, as the veteran goalkeeper takes a back seat and mentors the youngster.

David de Gea had a tough time when he came to England, Lafont will go through similar. But the investment in De Gea worked out for Manchester United. With the right coaches and enough game time, Lafont could become one of the worlds best.

Harry Maguire – Centreback

The Leicester City defender seems to grow in stature every time I see him.

Not a fashionable name, he joined Leicester from Hull City in June 2017 and his career has continued on a upward curve.

From Sheffield United to Hull City to Leicester City, he would not be the name at the top of many peoples lists, but he is turning into a top Premier League defender and has recently forced his way into England reckoning.

He has the no-nonsense defensive attributes that you would expect from someone who has made his way up through the leagues, but he can play as well. I have been very impressed with his ability on the ball when in an England shirt.

25 in March, he is a serious contender.

Jean-Michael Seri – Defensive Midfielder

We are struggling to transition the ball from defence to attack. Something that has ended up leaving Mesut Ozil isolated and coming deeper to get the ball.

Santi Cazorla has not been replaced. Xhaka was supposed to be that replacement, starting out attacks from deep, but too often he gives the ball away in dangerous places leading to goals conceded.

Seri is a diminutive, hard working midfielder who has a £33 million release clause.

He is a defensive midfielder who covers a lot of ground, so would fit in perfectly with Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere either side.

Leon Bailey – Winger

The 20-year-old Jamaican speedster joined Bayer Leverkusen for €20 million in the  2016/17 transfer window. He has broken through to the first team this season, scoring 8 goals in his 16 appearances.

At a reported £35m, he is a lot of money for an unproven talent. But he is a talent.

With the growing contingent of German speakers at the club, Bailey could fit right in

Budget Option

Danijel Subašić – Goalkeeper

At 33, the Monaco goalkeeper would be a short term solution to replacing Petr Cech.

Having been at Monaco for 7 years, he signed a year extension to his current deal in the summer of 2017, taking him through to the end of 2020.

He may wish to see out his career at Monaco, but a chance to join a massive club in the twilight of his career might be too much to turn down. And would Monaco turn down £10-15m for the ageing goal keeper?

Jonny Evans – Centreback

Alan Pardew gloated the day the transfer window shut that Arsenal had failed with a £12m bid for the Northern Irish centreback. He laughed as he said it would have taken an offer twice that amount for WBA to accept the bid.

Arsenal could have the last laugh as the experienced defender could be available for as little as £3million if WBA get relegated.

Idrissa Gueye – Defensive Midfielder

In the 2016 calendar year, the Everton midfielder made the most successful tackles and interceptions out of any player in Europe’s top five leagues.

Gueye is a strong tackler, but he can also play from the back and is able to distribute quickly – something which Granit Xhaka struggles with.

He is a proven Premier League player that would immediately improve the Arsenal squad.

Florian Thauvin – Winger

If you are scratching your head thinking I recognise this name it is probably because you will remember him for a poor spell at Newcastle in 2015.

After not settling in the North-East, he was loaned back to Marseille before rejoining the club he left for the Geordies in 2017.

Since returning to Marseille, he has returned to the sparkling form that led Newcastle to pay £15m for him – scoring 29 goals in the last 18 months in France.

An outside bet to make France’s World Cup squad, if Arsenal do not require a first team winger, the speedster could be a cheap, but quality, option.

So in summary:

If we have missed anyone, please leave a name in the comments below!

Keenos

Who will be Arsenal’s number 2 next year?

Who will be Arsenal’s number 2 next year?

In an ideal world, playing Football Manager on my lap top, I would have signed Jordan Pickford this summer.

The deal would have been easy. With Petr Cech coming to the end of his career, Pickford would have come in as Arsenal’s number two. With Arsenal in the Europa League, Pickford would have got all the cup games. League Cup and Europa League games in the first half of the year. Europa League and FA Cup in the second half.

This would amount to around 20 games depending on our progress in the 3 competitions. All a while giving Pickford the chance to train alongside a goal keeping legend, and Arsenal a close up opportunity to judge whether Pickford really is a future superstar.

After the 1st year, Cech would then be put down and Pickford, if he has shown he can deal with the extra scrutiny and expectations at a top club, would step up to be Arsenal’s number one for the next 10 years.

In joining Everton, Pickford has actually made a good decision. Rather than be a number two at Arsenal, Manchester United or Chelsea, he has joined a lesser team where he will go straight in as number one. With Joe Hart out of form and Jack Butland still not 100% after his long term injury, Pickford is giving himself the best outside chance to be England Number 1 at the World Cup in 2018.

At the very least, as long as he stays injury free, you would expect him to leap over Tom Heaton and Fraser Forster and be on the plane to Russia.

A couple of decent years for Everton, the top clubs will then be knocking on his door offering him the chance of the Number 1 jersey.

The price of £30m might be excessive, but Everton might have just signed their goal keeper for the next 10 years – that then works out at £3m a year. Or if he performs well and in 2 years joins Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea as their new number 1, you have to think they would be willing to pay £50m – especially considering the way transfer prices are inflating each year.

With Pickford off the table, this removes one potential option for a future understudy for Petr Cech.

Current number 2, David Ospina, is surely finally going to leave this summer? How long can a class keeper, and regular for his country, stay as number 2, playing a a dozen or so games a year?

It is clear Arsene Wenger does not think he is good enough to be number 1 in the Premier League, so he will surely be shipped out. Long term interest from Fenerbache might finally turn into a transfer.

We then have Wojciech Szczesny.

Many fans have looked at the stats and decided Szczesny was the best keeper in Italy last year, when he was on loan to Roma. They see Juventus looking to make a £14m offer for his services as the eventual replacement for Gianluigi Buffon. “If he is good enough to replace the greatest of all time, why is he not good enough for Arsenal” a friend asked me yesterday.

A valid question, and my response was reasonable. “He has had enough chances at Arsenal.”

Whilst Szczesny’s natural ability has never been in question, what is between his ears has been.

A tendency to lose concentration that led to mistakes that cost goals, and a few attitude issues, saw Szczesny lose his place in the Arsenal first team on more than one occasion. Things came to a head in January when Szczesny made errors leading to both goals in Arsenal’s 2–0 defeat at Southampton. His response was to go to the showers for a smoke, and he was dropped for the rest of the season.

Sent on loan to Italy, he has matured in the 2 years he has been at Roma, but old habits die hard. He was dropped in 2016 after once again being caught smoking following a 6-1 defeat to Barcelona. And whilst he often made match winning saves, the mistakes have not been eradicated from his game.

For me, if we still planned for him to be number 1, he should have been bought back from loan last season, number 2 for Arsenal in 2016/17 and then moved to 1st choice this season.

With a year left on his contract, Arsenal will do well to cash in on him.

That then leaves us with Emiliano Martinez.

The giant Argentinean looked OK in his very small handful of games this season. But has he really shown enough to be number 2 next season.

Let me switch the question around. If Petr Cech picked up a season long injury on 1st September 2017, would you be happy with Martinez coming in for the remainder of the season? Or until January 1st? The answer is probably no.

He might be a decent 3rd choice keeper. But he has simply not shown enough that he can be Cech’s back up. And with Arsenal also needing to search for a new first choice keeper over the next 12 months, Martinez is simply not good enough.

He would be worth keeping around for as long as he wants to be 3rd choice, but, like Vito Mannone before him, he will never be more than that at Arsenal.

That leaves Arsenal in an awkward situation. We need to go out and find a 2nd choice keeper who is happy being an understudy to Petr Cech. Happy with the Europa League games. But is good enough to replace Cech if he picks up an injury. In an ideal world, it would be someone under 25 who could then replace Cech in a years time.

When you look at the top 6’s current Number 2, you see the calibre of goal keeper we need to target (based on 2016/17):

Chelsea: Asmir Begovic
Tottenham: Michel Vorm
Manchester City: Willy Caballero
Liverpool: Loris Karius
Arsenal: David Ospina
Manchester United: Sergio Romero
Everton: Joel Robles

All 7 have been regular number for top flight sides in England, Spain, Germany or France. 4 of the 7 have played for their country, 3 of which have been their countries undisputed number 1 at some point in their career.

It will not be easy finding a number two.

Would the likes of Joe Hart, Fraser Forster or Jack Butland be happy putting their World Cup place at risk? Probably not. Maybe Arsenal could go another route and encourage the now-surplus-to-requirements Maarten Stekelenburg to finish his career as number 2 at Arsenal? Not one for the future but certainly good enough to deputise for Cech. Adrian at West Ham could be a similar senior option if they sign Joe Hart.

Could Arsenal make a move for AC Milan youngster Gianluigi Donnarumma? He certainly has the talent the be a future number one and at just 18 might be willing to spend a year behind Petr Cech to continue learning his trade. Although to go from AC Milan number 1 to arsenal number 2 might take some encouraging. With a year left on his current Milan deal, it is a move Arsenal could make.

Another young Italian is Simone Scuffet at Udinese. At 21 he is older than Donnarumma, but less experienced. Another who could be future number 1, but is he currently good enough to take over from Cech were Cech to get injured? Possibly not.

A final option (well not the final option, but the last name I am going to mention) is Germany’s Timo Horn. At 24 he has a big future ahead of him, and has already totted up over 150 games for Koln. At the 2016 Olympics, he was Germany’s starting goal keeper.

He has been compared in his career to Liverpool’s Loris Karius – who had a rough 1st year in the North-West. But he would be coming in for a year to play 2nd fiddle to Cech, rather than Karius who came in as number one

There are plenty of other options for Arsenal this summer, and it will be an interesting one to watch unfold and see what route Wenger takes us down.

Keenos