With the focus largely being on which attacking midfielder Arsenal must pursue to solve their creativity issues, it’s easy to forget that there’s an issue at the other end that also needs resolving.
The Gunners are in the market for a new backup goalkeeper during the January transfer window with Alex Runarsson set for a loan exit away from the club in order to gain more first-team experience.
While the number one spot is pretty secure in the hands of Bernd Leno, the lack of genuine competition could just as easily come back to hurt Arsenal after they sold Emiliano Martinez last summer.
It’s a tricky position to nail, truthfully. Signing someone with the intention of them being a second fiddle immediately limits the scope of who’s available, and rotating goalkeepers has never wielded good fortunes. With that being said, competition is important and the right man for the job will keep Leno on his toes, but also accept his role will come predominantly in limited capacity.
Here’s who Arsenal could move for before the transfer window slams shut.
Starting with the most unlikely.
Sergio Romero would be a huge coup for Arsenal, while Manchester United are looking to offload the Argentine who is now surplus to requirements and out of contract this summer.
He was arguably the best backup in the league when deputy to David de Gea. There lies the problem, though – his stock is too high for United to sell to direct league rivals, so there’s little chance the Gunners would be able to pull off a move.
Ugurcan Cakir could be a shrewd addition to Arsenal’s squad in the long-term.
The 24-year-old currently plies his trade with Trabzonspor and his performances helped them to European qualification in the 2019/20 season. He’s been linked with a move to a number of top European sides including Liverpool, too.
He does sit in a similar category to Runarsson, however, as they are of similar age and lack experience at the top level.
Having sold Martinez to Aston Villa, veteran shot stopper Tom Heaton has suddenly found himself playing second fiddle in the Midlands.
At 34, playing second fiddle at Arsenal would be hard to turn down. Heaton is Premier League proven and still capable of pulling out a good performance; he’d also be a handy player to have around younger goalkeepers.
Villa will be aware of his abilities, however, and how fortunate they are to have him as backup. It might be difficult to prize him away.
The Crystal Palace shot stopper continues to impress and is out of contract this summer.
Palace signed Jack Butland ahead of the current season, too, who could step up should they allow Guaita to leave ahead of schedule. While it’s not expected that he’ll become an uncaged contract rebel, the potential to move to Arsenal might tempt him at the age of 34.
Snapping him up while there’s still life left in him could shore Arsenal up for a season or two at least.
Barcelona’s second fiddle has actually played more games than he perhaps bargained for this season, which has put him in the limelight somewhat.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen spent some time out injured meaning 31-year-old Neto has racked up nine appearances so far this season. Arsenal have been linked with a move already and, while it might not be the cheapest option, he’s at his peak and would boost their ranks massively.
The Spaniard is the latest in a string of talented players to develop their game significantly at Brentford. And after Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma got their Premier League moves last summer, Raya might not be far behind.
The 25-year-old is being tipped as the top target for Arsenal and has kept seven clean sheets in the Championship so far this season, although there are doubts over his availability in January. If they can afford it, Arsenal must act now.
Raya’s stock will only likely rise and should Brentford achieve promotion, a move could be harder to facilitate in summer.