By Tony Attwood
When Ospina came to Arsenal the fee was modest – £3m was the reported sum, and his contract was for a four year deal. He started off playing in the League Cup (a home defeat to Southampton) and the Champions League (at home to Galatasaray after Wojciech Szczęsny was sent off). Although Ospina conceded the penalty awarded as a result of the foul that had resulted in the Szczesny sending off, Arsenal won 4-1.
And then he got injured and was out for the rest of the year. But on returning for the FA Cup against Hull he impressed Mr Wenger enough to keep his place. This was in part because of the bust up between Szczesny and Mr Wenger over the keeper’s smoking in the changing room after the Southampton game.
So Ospina got his chance in the team, but was only the sub for the Cup Final demolition of Aston Villa. He went onto the long list for FIFA Ballon d’Or for the season but didn’t make the short list. But then in the summer we signed Cech and the stories about him leaving (which have accompanied him ever since) began. Indeed it is a measure of just how ill-informed the journalists and bloggers are that it was immediately suggested that Oooooospina was off to Beşiktaş. Or was that Everton? Someone like that anyway.
Anyway the rift between Mr Wenger and Wojciech Szczęsny was obviously very serious and WS was shipped off to Roma, and Oooooospina became our cup keeper. He was reliable – but could blunder (and of course for a keeper a single blunder is enough to earn a deep dark black mark – as with the dropped corner against Olympiacos).
After that Ospina paid the price of jet setting around the world to answer the call of the country by getting injured playing for Chile.
However he came back next season with a stunning performance against PSG, and his regained form kept him in our FA Cup squad, and gave him a cup winner’s medal.
But he retained the cup keeper position in 2017/18 and despite the side’s up and down form, helped significantly with the win over Milan 2-0. But of course just playing cup games is no substitute for experience, and perhaps mindful of competition for his place in the national team, he asked to go on loan when Leno arrived. He went to Napoli for a year, and that is where he has now gone permanently. However his injury problems did not end upon leaving Arsenal and in March this year he suffered a head injury playing for Napoli.
In all he played 196 games for Nice before coming to Arsenal, and then 70 for Arsenal, of which 29 were in the league. His medals with us were two FA Cup winners, one Community Shield, and one League cup runners up medal.
Let’s hope he can enjoy a fruitful career from here on, and stay clear of further injuries. He’s been a good servant to the club.
The Arsenal web site now shows us with two first team goalkeepers – Leno and Martinez, so that seems to be the settled arrangement for next season.
The Academy is showing Iliev, Macey and Okokow as the keepers, and so I would guess if Martinez is playing in the cup games one of those three is going to be on the beach in those matches.
Meanwhile, although journalists and bloggers oft suggested that Ospina was not good enough to be Arsenal’s keeper after the Olympiacos affair, now that Arsenal have sold him the foot is on the other shoe, or something like that, as there are complaints that we have let him go too cheaply. Goal has said the sale price was £5m and suggested Arsenal have again blundered. But of course, no one knows the price really, and what add ons there might be in there depending on games played.
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