During the breakneck frenzy of January's transfer window, Arsenal have been linked to a myriad of players who line up at nearly every position on the pitch. Most of the attention has been paid to striking and midfield options, but now reports contend that the Gunners might be once again looking to improve the back end...the way back end.
Arsene Wenger has reportedly set his sights on Roma keeper Maarten Stekelenburg. Per Charles Perrin of the Daily Express:
Arsenal and Fulham have both been put on alert as Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is agitating for a move away from Italy.
Stekelenburg has hinted at a move to England, and both Barclays Premier League clubs have been on the trail for his signature some time now.
The report comes as little surprise given (a) Arsenal's long-cited interest in the Dutch international, and (b) Arsene Wenger's oft-rumored fancy to acquire a keeper more stable than Wojciech Szczesny.
Szczesny has shown flashes during his brief, young career, and he still remains a valuable piece for somebody's future. Whether that team is Arsenal is up for debate, but it's not as if he's used goods. Stekelenburg, however, would be able to provide something Szczesny has always proved incapable of—stability.
Perhaps best known (at least to casual, or strictly international, fans) for his red card and subsequent benching for Poland in this year's Euro, Szczesny has always been a tad capricious.
It's hard to fault a guy who was Arsenal's first-choice keeper by the age of 20 for not being fully developed. Who among us would be? But going out for a drunken night on the town after a brutal game (via the Mail) is no way to endear oneself to a city—or, for that matter, a manager.
In Stekelenburg, Arsenal fans would be getting a keeper who has been defined by his consistency rather than his fickleness. At his best, he's awfully good—he's previously won the AFC Ajax Player of the Year award—but his basement also isn't too much lower than his ground floor. That is, even his worst stretches don't deviate far off the map of competent play.
Which is, in many ways, exactly the presence Arsenal need at the back of their defense. If they still plan on pursuing a top-four finish this season, they need a rock who they can count on between the pipes. No more wondering if Swansea or Reading will be able to slot away a couple of chippies—we got Stekelenburg back there.
And then, when the Gunners do take on the high-powered, barely containable attacks of a Manchester United or a Chelsea, Arsenal would have a guy with plenty of (successful) big-game experience under his belt, experience that includes pitching a near shutout against Spain—the world's best offense—in the FIFA World Cup final...a game that, according to FIFA.com, almost HALF THE WORLD tuned in to see.
Here is a man that won't flinch when Wayne Rooney or Eden Hazard or Carlos Tevez comes streaking toward him during a must-win, February fixture. He might as well be playing pickup in the back lots of Haarlem, Netherlands.
Whose to say what the future holds for Szczesny, but Arsenal fans better hope that the present holds a temporary break from first-team keeper duties.