It might be too early to say that Lukasz Fabianski has made an impressive come-back but his role in the victories against Bayern and Swansea can not be overlooked. The Polish goalkeeper has been the master of his penalty box and demonstrated safe hands whenever the opponents tested him. His performances have probably made a lot of Gooners re-consider their opinion regarding renewing Fabianski’s contract that is set to expire in three months time.
There is an old sayin’ that one man’s loss is another man’s gain. Fabianski’s compatriot Wojciech Szczesny has seen the worse part of that proverb lately. His form has not been consistent this season although it should be said that he was partially a victim of his defenders who have let him down in more than a few occasions (e.g. the first match against Swansea and the second match against Spuds). Given that he is only 22, Szczesny is in a better position than Fabianski as his best years are yet to come. World-class goalkeepers usually have their best years between 31 and 35 due to experience. Iker Casillas is a rare example of a young goalkeeper that stepped up at the tender age of 19 and gave a string of excellent performances at the highest level.
The last nine games will determine whether Fabianski is going to be among the Arsenal players next season. There are a lot of rumours regarding the Gunners and new goalkeepers but it seems that our Polish goalkeepers hold keys to their own future. There is one thing that both of them should improve – their kicking.
If Fabianski and/or Sczszesny fail to secure their place between the sticks next season, Arsene Wenger will probably splash some cash to sign a new goalkeeper that will have quality that matches Arsenal’s ambitions.
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JOSE ANTONIO “PEPE” REINA
For a long time Arsenal have been connected with the Spanish goalkeeper from Liverpool. However, his performances have deteriorated since 2009 when Liverpool rejected 20 million pounds from Arsenal and it will be a miracle if Liverpool get even half of that sum for him now. The expert penalty-saver will turn 31 on the last day of the summer transfer window but it seems that his best days are behind him. At one point of the season he had 44 % save ratio which is a good percentage only if you are a goalkeeper…in handball. Brendan Rodgers will probably try to cash in on Reina and invest that money in a new goalkeeper.
The Barcelona goalkeeper might not be the best among goalkeepers that have been connected with Arsenal lately but he has been the most decorated among them for sure. Valdes has been solid on several occasions, his saves of Henry’s great chances denied us a Champions’ League trophy in 2006 and he made an important save against FAnchester United in the Champions’ League Final 2009, but he is a goalkeeper prone to errors. Real Madrid took the Spanish Supercup this year thanks to his mistake in the First Leg and we all remember what kind of goal Robin Van Persie scored against Barcelona. Valdes (31) doesn’t want to sign new contract with Barcelona and the current deal expires in the 2014 summer . His reputation and certain qualities will make him a very desirable target in the next transfer window as Barcelona will most certainly try to earn some money. His price is allegedly 8.5 million pounds.
The Dutch goalkeeper has been one of the best in the Premiership for the last two seasons and he might be looking for a new challenge. He is going to be 30 in October and yet he is rather inexperienced at the highest level compared to Valdes and Reina. His back-up in Swansea Gerhard Tremmel has done pretty well whenever he has been called into action so Michael Laudrup might agree to sell one of his biggest stars for a substantial amount of money. According to some reports, Barcelona and FAnchester United are also interested in Vorm.
The Genoa 20-year-old starlet goalkeeper comes from the country of great goalkeepers (Zoff, Pagliuca, Zenga, Peruzzi, Buffon). Despite his age, he has already made a debut for the Italian senior team. He is currently at loan in Pescara where he has had some superb performances like the one against Fiorentina (the very same Fiorentina that has Stevan Jovetić in attack!) which made some people call him the next Gianluigi Buffon. If he lives up to expectations, 17 million pounds for him would be a bargain buy as Buffon has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
This one might look far-fetched but…why not? “Saint Iker” has had some problems with Jose Mourinho’s ego this season and it would be no surprise if Mourinho – provided that he stays in Madrid next season – decides to sell Casillas and sign unsettled David De Gea from FAnchester United. The 32-year-old Casillas has been arguably the best goalkeeper in the world ever since he the took No.1 shirt from Bodo Illgner. His saves haven’t just been worth trophies – he also kept Real alive in the years after Makelele and Hierro left two huge gaps in Real Madrid’s defensive department winning at least 10 points each season with his incredible saves. Spanish national team would never have achieved the three big tournament victories if they had anyone else between their sticks – Casillas gave them a life-line with a string of important saves against Italy at EURO 2008, Paraguay and Holland at the 2010 World Cup and Croatia at EURO 2012. If Casillas becomes available during the next transfer window, Wenger should really sign a goalkeeper from a Spanish giant and not from Barcelona!
My compatriot has managed to pull one incredible save – he is a likeable figure despite playing with Tony Pulis’ Orcs! That achievement deserves some sort of Golden Glove in itself but in footballing terms Begović has something to offer as well, and it’s not just that his face reminds us of Jens Lehmann. He is a commanding goalkeeper that has full control of his six-yard-area and has ability to pull off a magnificent save when required. The Bosnian national team was very close to defeat in an away match against Greece when Salpingidis had a one-on-one with Begović but the 1,96 m tall goalkeeper demonstrated brilliant reflexes to prevent the Greeks from taking the lead. We have seen his abilities when we played Stoke at Emirates. He is a very solid goalkeeper although it should be said he had a lot of problems with long shots from Portuguese players Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani when we were beaten 6:2 in the play-offs for EURO 2012. He is 26 and – given that Stoke signed Jack Butland – he will leave the Potters for a bigger club this summer. His price is apparently 15 million pounds with Liverpool and FAnchester United also interested in his services. Just like Vorm, he doesn’t have the experience of playing for a big club.
The Belgian goalkeeper has been arguably the best Sunderland player this season. His saves are one of the rare above-average qualities Sunderland have had so far and it wouldn’t be too brave to say that without him Sunderland would probably face relegation.
Conclusion: Whoever deserves Arsene Wenger’s trust next season, he will need proper defending in front of him to demonstrate true quality! That has been Szczesny’s downfall this season.
What are your thoughts? Would you prefer Wenger retains the Polish duo or cuts his losses with Fabianski, lose him for free this summer and sign a new ‘keeper? Feel free to comment below.