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Arsenal desperate to buy new goalkeeper. (Oh, sorry, that was last year)

By Tony Attwood

Do you remember the people who filled the blogs and airwaves last season saying that we needed a goalkeeper and had to buy one for £10m?  Or £20m.   The trolls’ friends in the press duly obliged with stories such as “Roma to offer goalkeeper Doni to Arsenal” (Daily Mail) – the point being that Arsenal were in such a mess that they couldn’t even take a keeper who was being thrown at them.

“Caught offside” were obliging as always saying Arsenal had failed in a £7million bid to sign Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who was about to join…  Roma.

Then they turned the screw with “The 28-year-old has been in discussions with the Serie A giants over a possible transfer when the Gunners stepped in to hijack the move.”  That makes you think Arsenal were active, but…

“The Holland international snubbed Arsenal’s move as he has already verbally agreed to join the Italian side, according to Dutch newspaper AD.

“The north London side are looking for competition for Polish duo Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski with Manuel Almunia set to leave the Emirates this summer.

“Veteran Jens Lehmann has already been released and youngster Vito Mannone attracting interest from a number of Championship clubs.

“Stekelenburg will now complete the move to the Stadio Olimpico early next week and is another player set to slip through boss Arsene Wenger’s fingers.”

Goodness, it seems ages ago now… not just the frantic “buy a keeper” now stuff, but all the “slip through the fingers” stories.  Like the fact that according to the Daily Mirror, Arsène Wenger made Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer one of his priority targets in last  summer’s transfer window.

But then, oh no, Arsenal were said to have put in an offer that was far too low, or offered a salary that was far too low, so the deal “slipped through Arsenal’s fingers”.

And then…

Bet 365 told us that Liverpool’s Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina confirmed that he was the subject of a massive bid from Premier League rivals Arsenal in the summer of 2010, but Liverpool turned down a bid of £20million.

(Speaking of which you would have heard of Liverpool’s keeper problem, as they have just recalled Peter Gulacsi from a season-long loan spell at Hull, where he rubs shoulders with Mannone.  Gulacsi has never made a first-team appearance for Liverpool and has not played for Hull since being injured in December.  He’s on the bench because Doni and Reina are serving suspensions, so Brad Jones is all they have left at home.)

But back to us, and in fact over the last two years, if there was a goalkeeper, Arsenal were bidding for him.  Here’s the Telegraph rather oddly quoting the Mirror on the subject of the Cagliari keeper:

“According to reports, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is looking at alternative goalkeeper …and his hopes of landing Marchetti have been vastly improved after his club accepted his transfer request.

“Asked about Marchetti’s future, Cagliari president, Massimo Cellino told the Mirror: “Federico has expressed a desire to leave,” he said. “The only club pushing for his signature is Arsenal and we will do everything to make him happy.”

“Wenger has made no secret of his desire for a new goalkeeper since the transfer window opened and his attentions turned to Marchetti after he had a £2million bid for Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer turned down.”

I could fill a hundred pages with such stories.  Gianluigi Buffon, Odesseas Vlachidimos, Joe Hart, you name him, from the summer of 2010 to the summer of 2011 Arsenal wanted him – but always with the tag that when it didn’t happen the keeper “slipped through Arsenal’s fingers.”

The fact is of course we had a brilliant keeper ready and waiting, and boy was he worth waiting for.  Just watching him against Wolverhampton last night showed how brilliant he was.  Two saves, both exquisitely done.  Total focus.  Total concentration.  A brilliant performance from a brilliant keeper who loves the club and is loved by the real fans – not the ones who said we had to buy.

The point is of course that had we bought a keeper last summer we would have had no chance of keeping Wojciech Szczęsny.  Same is true for the summer before.  He knew he was ready to play this year, and seeing another keeper come in (even a year ahead of his being ready) would have made him ask to leave.

So what happens now to the keepers?  After our obvious number 1 we have Łukasz Fabiański, Vito Mannone (now at Hull on loan), Manuel Almunia (had a loan with WHU) and Damian Martinez.

How long Łukasz Fabiański will stay as number two I have no idea.  Certainly if he is still with us next season he will only get cup matches and games when Fabiański is injured.  Mannone did well when he had to step up before (remember that wonderful game against Fulham) but his long residency at Hull and the poor match he had when he came on in the Champs League suggests maybe he has not developed as far as imagined.

Almunia, having been number 1, is clearly not going  to stay at the bottom of the pile, but I don’t know when his contract is up.  He might not want to move for lower wages…. there is no word as to what will happen.

Which brings us to Martinez who has been on the bench for Carling and FA Cup games.   Next season it looks like being a loan move for him – although with the usual contract deal that he can be recalled if needed.

That won’t disturb Martinez I imagine since Wojciech Szczęsny’s six-month loan at Brentford in 2009/10 was the start of his rise to stardom.   And the word is out about how good our Reserve keeper actually is as following a spate of injuries  Martinez was called up to the full Argentina squad last year.  Not the under 18s or under 21s, the full squad.

OK, he didn’t play, but the fact that he was called up at 18 says something and a half.  (Incidentally if you look him up on Arsenal’s web site you might get a bit confused since he is actually listed 3 times in the chart of games played – twice under his proper name and once with his middle name spelled wrongly.  Obviously his impact is so big they list him thrice).

The key point in all this is that, as we said once before (and I remember this one because Mr Wenger quoted us the next day in a press conference), we have too many keepers.  Some will have to go.  My guess is that Mannone and Almunia might say farewell.

And I would also suggest that all those people who suggested that we ought to buy a keeper will now keep rather quiet about it.

Watching Wojciech Szczęsny, his skill, his larking around, his positiveness, his love of Wenger – it makes me proud to be an Arsenal fan, and proud to have seen a few of the games as the young lad made his way up to the first team.

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34 comments to Arsenal desperate to buy new goalkeeper. (Oh, sorry, that was last year)

  • avatar Df1968

    Almunia’s contract is up at the end of this season thank god. I some how doubt he will find a club that will match his current £60k a week deal!

  • avatar stonroy

    Do you realize you spent half the post talking about who we were linked to for a keeper? We understood your point in the first couple of lines mate, no need to go on anymore.

  • avatar Damien Luu

    I want Martinez to develop really fast to give Scz a true competition for our No.1 shirt. Not that I say Scz wouldn’t be the best keeper in the world without it, but to have it is surely better than not.

    Both of them have great heights, great reflexion, and great attitude. We could have the best keeper duo the world has ever seen.

  • avatar Damien Luu

    Oh, and I hope some of us will think twice before they demand to buy M’Vila or Hazard or even Podolski or whoever else. One new player coming into the first team could mean the departure of one or two of our young talented players, after maybe 5, 6 or 7 years educating them. Give them a chance, for God sake!

    Of course I am OK with any addition to the squad that AW could do. He knows, doesn’t he? One more REALLY quality player, why not? But buying a bunch of useless “superstars” just to “show that we have the ambition”? Ambition my arse!

  • St. Totteringha………

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    A Gooner-Gunner in goal. The boy loves the club and the supporters. He is a bit crazy. A bit like Jens who was a lot crazy. ;-) All great keepers are a bit crazy.
    And he still has a lot of things he can improve on. And he will improve on it. Just look at the way he has improved his long punts in the last year or so.
    He can become on of the greatest Arsenal goalkeepers in the history if he keeps on working and improving. His best is yet to come and I already wouldn’t swap him for any other goalkeeper in the EPL right now.

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Amazing how bitter some fans are after being proven wrong….
    Reminder for some: we are 3rd, we have won 8 of our last 9 games. Cheer up lads, it’s not that bad that Wenger knew better. ;-)

  • avatar Mandy dodd

    Very amusing all the crap to be read out there. Aren’t we still supposed to be in for Shay given, along with the likes of scot parker, one of the mythical missing pieces in the final jigsaw?
    Of the keepers you mentioned, we may have considered one or two, bob Wilson did seem to suggest at least a passing interest in Reina but like most, I am very happy with out no 1 , who as we know happens to be a Gooner as well. As you say, when called upon, he was superb last night. Good to see a few clean sheets starting to creep in.

  • avatar Arvind

    Thanks Tony. Its true isn’t it. And trust me very few managers in world football will have as much trust in his players as AW.

    I also had a thought that if Wilshere, Gibbs, Theo, AOC and Jenkinson all come through; you could find that being the core of the English side in the years to come. Just a thought anyway.

    @Damian: I never understood why M’Vila needs to be bought. Unless Song is playing up front more and more with a view to being sold for a higher fee. I hope that is NOT the case.

  • avatar Mandy dodd

    Arvind, agree with you on mvila, do not really get that one either, and I really hope we are keeping song, who is becoming quite a unique player, unfortunately, I would imagine coveted by many.

  • Scezsney is a true Gooner, much more assured than any keeper we have had since Lehman, Will not be pushed around or dominated by scrappy teams (see De Gea vs Wigan,) and gives voice to the team. It is great to see him bollocking the defence when people get through on goal.

    With Almunia and Fabianski we just didn’t have that, and talented they might be…..the focus and concentration as you mention wasn’t quite there.

    It looks as if we are developing a very strong spine for seasons to come. So pleased with the lads for the way they have fought their way back to third. Outside of Manchester we are the best club…How about that! Chelsea Liverpool and Tottenham spent massive last year, yet we appear to have out done them losing (apparently) our two best players and “panic buys”.

    I believe the Loan of Thierry Henry has had much more significance than just the goals. The emirates has found a voice and seen the return of a legend, the final steps to rebuilding our squad and reputation. Since Henry we have seen Rosicky re-emerge as a great midfielder, a great bit of form from Theo, Arteta finally stamping his authority in games, the Emirates coming to life after being particularly dormant for much of the last few years, and of course Robin, who I feel has been the best captain for a very long time!

    Up the Gunners! Lets hope Newcastle get that champions league spot so Channel 5 can wax lyrical about tottenham next year!

  • avatar colario

    Wojciech Szczęsny has given the English Language a new word for ‘ goal keeper’ and that word is ‘Szczęsny’ or simply ‘szcz’.
    In the short time he has been playing in the 1st team he already has a long list of unbelieveable saves.
    I never read the speculative articles about who Arsene should buy or is going to buy. They are a waste of time in my opinion.

    I want to know about the players we have. One point about Szcz I don’t know is how he came to be brought to Arsenal.

  • avatar Mick

    Despite our current strength in the keeper department the media are still linking us with goalkeepers, the young Birmingham keeper for one, supposedly we are in a ‘race’ with Man U for him, his name escapes me. You would have thought all these media ‘experts’ would have learnt their lesson by now wouldn’t you. Maybe the fact that Wenger ignores the media and does things his own way and leaves the pundits with egg on their faces every time is the reason they dislike him so much?

  • avatar adi

    I read somewhere (don’t remember where) that both almunia and fabianski can leave on a free this summer. I do think fabianski is a good no. 2, but i doubt he’d stay. Mannone has already expressed his wish to join hull permanently. That leaves us with martinez, who’s 18. I think we might see an experienced player coming in, probably one like jaaskelainen who’s 35+ and no. 2 at a smaller club.

  • avatar Foz

    Mick you mean Jack Butland

  • avatar Mahdain

    4 cleansheets in the last 5 matches says a lot and boy im happy we didnt buy a keeper.. Scz is going to be an Arsenal great that im sure of..i really love his passion and determination and he clearly loves Arsenal as seen by his celebrations when we win a crucial and big match…kudos to his antics as he really makes me laugh at times as seen in the city match when someone threw a beer bottle he picked it up and drank it..
    Have to say though his ball distribution is still lacking but im sure he is gonna improve on that

  • avatar Woolwich Peripatetic

    Szczęsny has a long way to go but he has the physical basics of EPL goalkeeping absolutely nailed. He also has mental strength in spades, he seems to regard any goal he concedes as unsaveable (otherwise he’d have saved it) and gives his defenders a bollocking accordingly.
    What he lacks is the midfielderesque ability on the ball that Vorm demonstrates and makes Valdes so crucial to Barca’s play. If he can add that to his game he will have few peers.

  • avatar Gooner s

    I like the thrust beind your post. We did bid for Schwarzer though. In a similar vein I responded to a blogger a few days ago who was suggesting that we should sell Ramsey as ‘he wasn’t going to get any better’ and ‘we should cash in on him’. This was after the City game! Beggars belief.

    Szczesney is a good goal keeper. He needs to work on his distribution though as his passing needs some improvement.

    I would like us to by an experienced keeper to back Szczesney up.

  • avatar Woolwich Peripatetic

    Actually you could argue Arsenal don’t want a keeper like Vorm or Valdes because what we want to do is create chaos as close to the opponent’s goal as possible. The further we move away from the sterile, unsuited to the EPL, ‘Spanish’ style game we’ve suffered with for five years back towards the ‘Dutch’ original. Instead of punting at the #9, if as in Rugby you aim kicks for space for your forwards to contest a footrace rather than an aerial duel, we have some of the best players for that sort of game.

  • avatar Arvind

    @Woolwich: I’d be very interested to know a little more about the Dutch original game you speak about. I really haven’t watched enough World football to draw any conclusions. All I watch is Arsenal.

    And then I saw a little bit of the Spain-Holland final which wasn’t particularly enjoyable.

    So yes..would love to hear about this system you speak about and think of whether AFC can play it.

  • avatar BobbyP

    Gooner

    I agree. Now that we have an established number one i think its important for us to have an ideal number 2. Fabianski whilst having number 1 potential isnt a number 2 as he takes a run of games to build up his confidence.

    I think we need a calm head who will be happy to play 10 or so cup games a year but who can also have a positve influence on our wonderful pole and Martinez

  • avatar legolas still trust Wenger

    Hey Walter u just said it he reminds me of Jen Lehman a GK who loved the club though he came @ old age but he showed he is a gooner and love the club especially by advising German players to play for us . in addition i hope Scezeney keep 13 its a Luck shirt leave No 1 to Almunia :D . Martinez need to go on loan to prove himself we keep either Manone or Fabianski.

  • avatar Essien Isaac

    Four clean sheets in five matches! That should be a minute record of its own for arsenal… U can research it… After his unbelievable save last night, I would give 30% of the cleansheet creDit to the defence line and 70% to our fine young stallion in goal! ALL HAIL SHMIEKEL SZCZENEY! Up Arsenal!

  • avatar Woolwich Peripatetic

    @Arvind,
    If you can find the highlights of the 1974 World Cup on YouTube, you will see a Dutch side, taken mainly from the Ajax side that won three European cups in a row, playing some scarily similar stuff to the way Arsenal play at their best. The comment Jurgen Klopp made about RvP could equally apply to Cruijf.
    is a good start.

  • avatar Jacobite Gunner

    Regarding Almunia,

    If he is on 50-60k a week, this amount over-represents his value to the arsenal team (state the obvious, i know), however, if his contract is up at the end of the season and seen as a top side you really need 3 quality keepers, then If almunia accepts, I wouldn’ mind seeing him be offered a 2-3 year contract between 20-30k a week on the basis that he acknowledges he is a back-up goalkeeper in the same way that cudicini accepts that he is the resident (other north london teams) back-up goalkeeper.

    Almunia knows the EPL and there would be no need for bringing in a GK who would knowingly accept the back-up GK position. This would allow either mannone to leave (on loan to continue his development or by transfer) or fabianski to leave by transfer and we could get a couple of million for him, thoughts anyone?

  • avatar Sammy The Snake

    Scz-Man is the real deal!

  • avatar Arvind

    Okay Thanks Woolwich.

  • avatar Ong Bing

    Beside Damian Martinez, we also have James Shea (21) and Sean McDermott (19).

    So I think the rank after Manone is James Shea, Sean McDermott and Damian Martinez.

    According to Arsenal.com, he already 7 times on the bench, 2 in EPL. And he called by Capelo to “help” England national team train in London Colney.

  • avatar allezkev

    Tony,Almunia is out of contract this summer, but isn’t Fabianski as well????
    I’ve not seen Martinez, but he seems highly-rated.
    Charles-Cook i’ve seen a few times and he looked quite promising.

  • avatar Byo

    You read some Arsenal blog, you will find innumerable opinions from “managers” who know who to buy or not buy, and how much they should be paid!
    This, despite the fact that they have no clue about the finances of the club, have never managed a club in their lives, and probably never played football at any level.
    But I still read them for entertainment purposes.

  • avatar jb

    Has AW ever considered Lewandowski?He scored 20 goals in Bundesliga this year. He is smart, hard working, wins matches, plays for the team, I would like to compare him to RVP, however, with respect for the Dutch player Lewandowski has a much wider set of skills and attributions.For example, Lewandowski wins one tone, and defends on a regular basis as his headears are a miracle.(By the way he is still young -23- and cheap and he loves Arsenal)

  • avatar gunner

    Just compare De Gea who was purchased at 20mil to Scezsney and you’ll see that we arsenalists have our selves a steal. Our number 1 is what a goal keeper should be. Loud, sharp and loves his club.

  • AW is a patient manager and father. He has natured a number of players into real superstars. Look at Song. He was loaned at one time to Charlton, and many a fan wanted him shipped out of Arsenal. Now check what he has become. We often blame AW for not buying so and so, he is the one who is always with the players and knows them better than us at a distance.

  • avatar Ben

    Shame Fabianski can only play when he is injured!;)