Less than 12 months after making the decision on their number one goalkeeper, Arsenal look set to be without both of them by the time the next season begins.
At the end of the 2019/20 season, Emiliano Martinez finally got a chance in the number one role after Bernd Leno picked up a knee injury. He impressed so much as the club went on to win the FA Cup that many called for him to take the number one shirt on a permanent basis.
He agreed claiming that if he wasn’t going to be number one that he wanted to leave and when Mikel Arteta chose the German, Aston Villa came in and snapped him up for £20million.
Now however, it seems as though Leno will leave the Emirates this summer after reports suggest that he has told the club he wants to leave as he wants to play at the top level on a more regular basis.
Should Arsenal not be able to overturn their Europa League semi-final first leg defeat to Villarreal and they fail to win the tournament, they will be without European football for the first time in 25 years.
It’s a more than fair enough reason for Leno to look to leave the north London club, with his national team career likely to go up a notch after Euro 2020 with Manuel Neuer getting older and older. Leno will be competing with Barcelona stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for the Germany number one jersey, but he has no chance of winning that battle if he’s marauding at a mid table club with no continental football.
The decision to pick Leno over Martinez was an unpopular one amongst the fan base at the time, with many believing the Argentine was a better option. He was younger, hungrier, had been at the club for a decade and was impressive every time he played. There was no need for a change, even though it was the start of a new season.
Martinez has since gone across to Villa Park and shone keeping 14 clean sheets this season, more than anyone except for Ederson and Edouard Mendy of Manchester City and Chelsea respectively. Leno has kept only nine as Arsenal labour in ninth place in the league with 13 league defeats this season, just one points and place ahead of Villa who have played a game less.
The way the entire situation was handled was weird, with Martinez starting the Community Shield win over Liverpool just two weeks before he left the club.
When the decision needed to be made, I agreed with Arteta’s original choice. I thought Leno had the experience factor and had a slight edge as the better goalkeeper and felt that the club should put their faith in him.
While Martinez has arguably proven myself and Arteta wrong now and shown that he is the better keeper, the decision wouldn’t look so bad if the season had gone better and Leno wasn’t now adamant in leaving.
The club have gone from having two number one goalkeepers at the club at the same time to potentially having none and needing to sign one desperately ahead of the new season to help themselves get back into contention for European football.
Martinez is now laughing in the Midlands with a first-choice position nailed down at a Premier League club, while Arsenal are scrambling to convince Leno to stay or looking at which keeper to sign to take over the role. What a shambles.