Arsenal could sign Andre Onana as Bernd Leno replacement for free but face one issue
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Arsenal are facing many questions and uncertainties in the summer transfer window, but perhaps none are as complicated as those regarding their goalkeeping situation. Bernd Leno remains under contract for another two years – yet that fact does not come close to explaining the decisions faced by Mikel Arteta and Edu.
Like the team in general, Leno did not enjoy the best 2020/21 season and there are lingering doubts over his future at the club.
The German has been the club’s No 1 goalkeeper ever since joining Arsenal from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2018 for around £19million.
The 29-year-old has made 119 appearances for Arsenal, including 49 last season, but all is not settled behind the scenes.
Speaking about his future last month, Leno hinted he could be tempted with a move away.
“I am very happy at the club,” he said. “I don’t know what will come in the future. But I am open to everything. Maybe for a new adventure or to stay at Arsenal.
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“At the moment I don’t think about my future because two years is still a long time. There are no conversations with the club.”
The Athletic reports that both sides are open to a transfer and there is ‘no great appetite’ for talks over a contract extension.
Beyond Leno things are similarly uncertain. Mat Ryan has returned to Brighton following a half-season loan in north London and Alex Runarsson, who was signed from Dijon for around £1m on a four-year contract in September, does not look up to the job.
Most Gunners fans would have been happy with the £20m brought in from Emiliano Martinez’s sale to Aston Villa in September, but just nine months on the picture has shifted dramatically.
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Arsenal definitely need one goalkeeper and perhaps two, depending on whether Leno leaves this summer. Their recruitment plans for the position are not simple either.
Arsenal had been keen to sign Brentford’s David Raya, who would count towards their homegrown quota, but the Bees’ promotion to the Premier League has quashed that idea, with his release clause now not valid.
One target they could land is Andre Onana, but the Ajax goalkeeper is currently unable to play due to a 12-month suspension until February for consuming a banned substance.
Onana has appealed the decision, which relates to Furosemide, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and could get a reduction this week.
The Athletic says there is interest in the 25-year-old from clubs in France and Italy and Onana is expected to leave Ajax for free next summer regardless of the CAS case.
It is a murky picture, but one that does leave the Gunners an opportunity to sign a talented, young goalkeeper with 18 caps for Cameroon.
Leno is tied down for another two years and could therefore continue as the club’s No 1 keeper for next season before Arsenal seal a deal for Onana to take over for the 2022/23 campaign.
That is a possibility, but would the Gunners really want Leno between the posts when he has expressed a desire to move on?
Perhaps not. However, if they don’t land a first-choice goalkeeper this summer, then it could still represent their best option.
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