After a season in which the play of Wojciech Szczesny was a point of contention for Arsenal and their supporters, Arsene Wenger is creating some competition. The veteran boss has reportedly signed David Ospina as a potential replacement as the starting goalkeeper.
David Hytner of The Guardian reported the Gunners agreed to a deal with Nice for around £3 million to acquire the Colombian international. It's also noted that Wenger told Ospina he wants him to compete for the No. 1 spot.
Marc Williams of The Independent added the transfer isn't likely to become official until after Arsenal return from their trip to the United States. At that point, he's expected to sign a four-year contract with the Premier League club:
Arsene Wenger had hoped for the keeper to be available for their friendly against New York Red Bulls on Friday but Ospina will complete his medical and join the squad when they are back in England.
The Colombian has signed a four year deal worth a reported £60,000-a-week.
The question becomes whether the 25-year-old emerging star has a chance to win the job outright early in the new campaign or if Wenger is playing more of a timeshare in goal.
Ospina was coming off a strong season with Nice and backed it up with a great display of form in the World Cup with Colombia. His strong play was one of the key reasons the unheralded side advanced to the quarterfinals.
Szczesny wasn't afforded the same opportunity as Poland didn't qualify for the World Cup. In terms of club form, he ran hot and cold throughout last season for the Gunners. The fact the club decided to bring in a true threat for the starting job speaks volumes, though.
The biggest problem for the incumbent has been a lack of consistency. There's no doubt he's had matches where he stole points for Arsenal but maintaining top form has proven difficult.
Unfortunately for goalkeepers, when they have a bad match it's a lot easier to notice the mistakes than an outfield player. In turn, Szczesny was pinpointed as a key reason the side didn't keep pace in the title chase even though the issues stretched to every area of the pitch.
Now, with Arsenal upgrading by adding Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy, goalkeeper is one of the few remaining question marks.
Chris Wheatley of Gooner Talk passed along numbers from WhoScored.com that suggest Ospina should have the inside track on the starting spot:
Yet, it's hard to imagine the Gunners pushing Szczesny aside easily. He's still just 24 and could still be a major asset moving forward if the competition causes him to elevate his form.
Rob Kelly of the club's official site provided comments from him about the summer signings and he sounded excited about the additions:
It's good. Obviously you want to add more strength to your team and adding that little bit more quality to what we had last year is only going to make us stronger. Hopefully that will bring better results this season.
Those remarks came before the Ospina talk took center stage, though. It's unclear how he feels about possibly having to fight for his spot on a weekly basis.
All told, the best option for Wenger is probably riding the hot hand starting with Szczesny. He's done enough over the past four seasons to get the opportunity to keep his spot. And there isn't enough preseason time to make a definitive decision.
Knowing they have to play well to keep starting will increase the pressure on both keepers. As a result, Arsenal will either have two reliable options with their form raised by the competition or one will emerge as the clear choice for the business end of the campaign.
In the end, Ospina is the better bet to lock down the starting job at some point given his recent form but an even split seems like the most probable outcome.
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