It has perhaps gone unnoticed over the past year but Arsenal’s manoeuvrings to add a talented young goalkeeper to their squad have been apparent for some time.
As yet it is a pursuit that has proven to be largely unsuccessful with the Gunners identifying and seriously pursuing multiple targets only to miss out elsewhere. Most notable of all was Markus Schubert, who they came close to signing on a free last summer before he eventually opted for the promise of more regular football and Schalke.
Schubert is not the only one that Arsenal have tracked. They never came quite as close with Radoslaw Majecki, who joined Monaco for £7million last month before being loaned back to Poland, who football.london revealed last January was identified by Sven Mislintat before he was allowed to walk away from the club.
Their interest in the Polish youngster was genuine and significant, as confirmed by Legia Warsaw goalkeeping coach Krzysztof Dowhan to Przeglad Sportowy this week. Indeed they even went so far as to send their own staff to Poland to watch Majecki in person.
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“Arsenal also watched [Majecki] for a long time,” Dowhan said. “I remember how the Gunners’ goalkeeping coach came to Lazienkowska Street, watched warm-ups, because one can often learn a lot more about the goalkeeper’s skills than looking at the match itself.
“The French [side, Monaco] were the more specific, determined. It is important to me that we have him until the end of the season. I think it was a bargaining chip in talks between clubs.”
What could this all mean? In part it is little more than talent acquisition. As Alisson, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Ederson have proven in recent years, top grade goalkeeping talent no longer comes cheap. Better to get it in house early on rather than blow most of a transfer budget on the position.
It should also be noted that Arsenal are not short of young goalkeeping talent of their own: Karl Hein is a regular for the Under-23s at just 17 years of age whilst Arthur Okonkwo is highly-rated across Europe and at London Colney, even travelling with the first team for last season’s Europa League quarter-final away to Napoli.
Yet Schubert and Majecki were further along in their development, established regulars at Dynamo Dresden and Legia Warsaw who were significantly further along their development path. They may not have been shoe-ins for a major role at the Emirates immediately but both expected first-team football; indeed in the case of the former it is why he chose Schalke over Arsenal and Bayern Munich.
It is worth noting that in both cases Arsenal’s intention was to sign the goalkeeper and then immediately loan him out elsewhere for the 2019/20 season. Sooner or later though the plan would be for them to enter first-team contention and compete with Bernd Leno.