The goalkeeper situation at Arsenal was one of the more interesting side stories of the summer transfer window. It rumbled on for months, seemingly got fixed, and now continues to be a topic of much debate.
Aaron Ramsdale looks to have secured the number one jersey under Mikel Arteta. Being given a starting berth against Norwich ahead of a fit and firing Bernd Leno indicates that it is now his shirt to lose.
Ahead of facing Burnley that doesn’t looks like changing and with Leno’s future all but certain to be away from north London come next summer there will be even more change in the goalkeeping ranks.
Arthur Okonkwo penned a new deal during the summer window and was promoted to the first team, a major moved for the youngster who will take up his slot in the senior squad as the number three choice having not being loaned out.
Congratulations on your new deal, Karl 🙌https://t.co/cXZ1vajBHL— Arsenal Academy (@ArsenalAcademy) September 17, 2021
Arsenal make surprise goalkeeper transfer move as Karl Hein signs new long-term contract instead of playing out final year of his deal
Just behind him, or indeed wrestling for a similar role, is Karl Hein.
With just a year left on his contract and with talks having stalled, all signs were pointing to a him becoming a free agent in 2022 and moving on to pastures new. That was the general consensus from all around the club.
However, surprisingly, he has just signed a new long-term contract, as confirmed on the official Arsenal website.
In regards to his form it doesn’t come as any major shock after he started pre-season strongly for his club and has been superb for his country, notably putting in a man of the match performance for Estonia in their 0-0 draw with Wales. Still only 19 years old, he future looks bright. And it’s one that could be at Arsenal.
Which sets up another angle for the coming summer window: has he moved ahead of Okonkwo in the pecking order or is this simply to protect his value moving forward?
Equally – and while surely too soon for either – it does open up the possibility that one of Hein or Okonkwo may be fast-tracked to number two in the squad next term as Ramsdale assumes the number one jersey and Leno is moved on. A January loan for either could be in the offing.
Whatever the outcome may be, it’s a great move for Arsenal who can avoid losing any more talent on a free transfer. The battle between Hein and Okonkwo has been an intriguing one already and Arsenal will have had to convince the Estonian of his pathway to the first team, so no eventualities can be taken off the table just yet.