The most expensive goalkeeper in Arsenal Football Club history; Bernd Leno, arrives at the Emirates on a (reported) five year deal. Signing for a rumoured €22m, Leno becomes another piece in the Unai Emery rebuild plan. In his first interview as a Gunner, he said ‘it’s a dream to play for Arsenal’ which is always great to hear. But for one who so idolised a certain Jens Lehmann – he could have had the easiest of settle periods (his idol and fellow Germans), should the club have kept coach Lehmann on board. However, fingers crossed fellow Germans Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi help him to settle in North London. Leno is clearly excited to be at Arsenal so fingers crossed this enthusiasm translates into a world class goalkeeper.
What will he bring?
Hunger: At the age of twenty-six, which is still fairly young for a goalkeeper, Leno will be looking to grab the bull by the horns and make an impression from the off. Although some may call twenty-six inexperienced, he has just narrowly missed out on Germany’s World Cup squad falling behind Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp but will be aiming to regain his place with a solid start at Arsenal. He’ll have to displace Petr Cech granted but the club won’t have paid big bucks for a new keeper just to sit him on the bench, surely? Once in net and the starting number one, Leno should build confidence and with confidence brings performances and recognition…the recognition he needs to get back into the German national side. In the best league in world, he’ll be tested against the best week in week out, another beneficial factor that should take him passed the likes of Kevin Trapp (who will sit on PSG’s bench behind Buffon and Areola) in the German pecking order. Secondly, he’s left his home country and a long term club of comfort to test himself in the big time. He will not want to fail, and combined with his hunger for national selection, he will be more than motivated. He has already said he’s looking to help return Arsenal to the big time – big words but a big talent that’s more than capable.
Positioning: As mentioned in our recent Scout Report, Bernd Leno possesses great positioning. A big strength of his is identifying and moving into the correct position for shot stopping noticeably quickly. Ten years ago we’d credit Petr Cech for the same trait but these days he’s slowed down a little and cannot perform at the highest level game after game. Leno has showed at Leverkusen that he is capable of delivering, even on the big occasion; one-on-ones, short and long range shots – he’s proved he can handle it all. Aslo backed by a number of clean sheets over the years, he has skippered Leverkusen on a number of occasions, showing that he is able to lead as well perform. Having taken one-hundred and fifteen shots last season in the Bundesliga, he conceded only forty goals. You could credit a good defence too but there is no doubting Leno’s positioning and shot stopping abilities.
Passing: Having watched both Petr Cech and David Ospina continue to try and pass their way out of pressured situations, and fail miserably, Arsenal’s defence should be more than confident with the ball at Leno’s feet. These days goalkeepers are required to have feet like midfield maestros, and boy does he look comfortable with the ball at his feet. Passing was fundamental to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, and although Unai Emery will be looking to stamp his own blueprint on the squad, it’s likely that our defenders will still look to pass the ball around. Leno will distribute accurately and regularly, showing us that he can take pressure whilst delivering what his team requires. Going back to Cech and Ospina…both were guilty last season of overplaying and in attempting to pick someone out in our half whilst under pressure, just clered the touchline instead. We’d all much rather see our keeper pick someone out when there’s time to do so but be prepared to have it long when pressured by an opponent. Being organised and aware counts, even more so for a goalkeepeer, and Leno possesses such traits to be a commanding success.
Bernd Leno should be a fantastic addition to Arsenal. He is of an age where we could get up to ten years out of him, especially in the modern game; players are now much fitter and better prepared allowing them to sustain much longer careers. Looking to grow as a player, he will be hungry for success and to better both himself and our football club, long term. He’s a good shot stopper with undoubted talent who now just needs a big platform to shine on. With two friendly German faces around the first team and big Mertesacker still around the club in his new academy role, Leno should have no issues settling into London life. Tied down to a long term deal, Leno is an exciting player that I for one cannot wait to see play. Fresh from no World Cup football and stacked with the desire to improve and become better, he should be raring to go come the new season. So Bernd Leno, welcome to the Arsenal family.