David Ospina’s departure to Napoli and Petr Cech’s retirement leaves Arsenal short of goalkeepers, although the solution could come internally.
Arsenal looked like the real deal at the beginning of last season when Unai Emery decided Petr Cech would be his starting goalkeeper. This decision did not go well with fans after the club had acquired Bernd Leno in a £26 million deal from Bayer Leverkusen. The German was considered first choice material, but Emery stuck with Cech, albeit for some time at least.
The goalkeeping options at Arsenal looked luxurious at that time, even after Leno took over from Cech as the club’s first choice. Arsenal would have expected Cech to stick around for a few more seasons, given the hefty salary he was drawing despite his advancing age. However, the situation changed when Cech announced he would retire at the end of the season, prompting Arsenal to search for a new keeper.
Now, the situation does not look luxurious at all. In fact, Arsenal are in a dire need for a new goalkeeper, preferably someone to play understudy to Leno for the upcoming season and beyond. Additionally, Colombia International goalkeeper David Ospina has left the club to join Napoli permanently. If there was any chance of Emery taking Ospina back into the fold, it has vanished.
So where does that leave Arsenal now with their goalkeeping situation? Here are some scenarios that could be suitable for Arsenal.
Sign an inexpensive option
Well, the term inexpensive is put forward owing to Arsenal’s restricted transfer budget for the summer. Failure to qualify for the Champions League via a Premier League finish or by winning the Europa League has cost Emery a decent budget. That said, Arsenal are reportedly operating on a tight £45 million for the entire summer.
Signing a goalkeeper is not a priority, but an attacker and a defender certainly are. They are building on their efforts to sign a winger and full-back as Crystal Palace’ Wilfried Zaha and Celtic’s Kieran Tierney remains high on their list of targets. Additionally, they are also looking to hire a central defender with William Saliba of Saint-Etienne seemingly close to a transfer among other targets.
So signing the priority players would leave Arsenal with no money to spare for a second choice goalkeeper. This could force the club into signing a young, inexperienced and obviously inexpensive option to replace Petr Cech. Now, who that could be is something the club need to explore. If this does not work out, Arsenal does have a second option to solve the keeper problem.
Promote Emiliano Martinez
When talking about internal talents, the name Emiliano Martinez strikes a chord. The Argentine keeper has been associated at the club for as long as we can remember. Signed in 2010 from Argentinian side Atletico Independente’s youth team, Martinez never really made the grade under Arsene Wenger. In his 9 years at the club so far, he has been loaned for the most part to different sides within England.
However, last season he was sent to La Liga side Getafe, but it could be considered a failed spell after making only four league appearances. Even with the Arsenal senior side, he’s featured only six times in league with the senior team, while playing twice in the Champions League. He still has three years left on his deal at the club, and whether he could form a part of the club under Emery is the big question.
While Martinez has apparent quality, at 26-years of age, he still lacks top-flight experience in a massive way. His inability to nail down a place in either of the clubs he’s played before could come back to bite his chances of becoming Arsenal’s No.2. It is a very dicey situation, and a significant risk for Emery if he decides to promote Martinez. The Argentine is not even close to being considered Cech’s replacement.
Bring an experienced replacement.
With Ospina gone and Cech retired, Arsenal might as well make a third choice to bring in an experienced keeper in their ranks. The likes of Gianluigi Buffon linked some time ago, but the veteran has now re-joined Juventus. That said many other keepers could be tapped into and convinced to move to the Emirates. Joe Hart is another such option and as is Nick Pope of Burnley.
An experienced keeper can bring some stability in games where Emery might rest Leno. Take cup games, for instance, and an experienced keeper might well fit in. Manchester City, Chelsea, and some other clubs have decent backups for their first choice stars, but Arsenal needs to take a similar step and replace Cech with a like-for-like player.
In all, David Ospina and Cech’s departure leaves them short of options between the posts. Martinez or any other inexperienced keeper might not be able to fill the void left by the former Chelsea keeper. A viable, reliable, and established option is a must for Arsenal, and the Gunners need to act in the transfer window as quickly as possible.