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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.