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David Ospina's Arrival Would Be a Huge Challenge to Wojciech Szczesny

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 28: David Ospina of Colombia gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at Maracana on June 28, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

Arsenal are close to completing their third signing of the transfer window. It seems Arsene Wenger has identified Colombian David Ospina as the man to add depth to his goalkeeping options.

David Hytner of The Guardian suggests a deal for Ospina is imminent:

Arsène Wenger has agreed a £3 million deal for Colombia’s World Cup goalkeeper David Ospina from Nice. The Arsenal manager has moved to fill the gap in his squad that was created by Lukasz Fabianski’s Bosman transfer to Swansea City at the end of last season and he has told Ospina that he wants him to compete with Wojciech Szczesny for the starting position.

If Wenger wants competition for Szczesny, Ospina will guarantee that. With Lukasz Fabianski leaving for Swansea this summer, there was a lot of speculation about what type of keeper Wenger might choose to bring in. It was initially felt he might opt for someone with plenty of experience who would be happy to play a supporting role, much like Mark Schwarzer and Brad Friedel did at Chelsea and Tottenham last season.

However, there is an emerging trend in European football for elite clubs to have two top-class goalkeepers. A prominent example was last season’s Real Madrid squad, containing both Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez.

Next year, even more clubs will have that kind of internal competition. Chelsea have replaced Schwarzer with the returning Thibaut Courtois, who will go head-to-head in a battle for supremacy with Petr Cech. According to Lyall Thomas of Sky Sports, Spurs are on the verge of completing a move for Dutch international Michel Vorm, who will vie for a place with France No. 1 Hugo Lloris.

That is the template that Wenger has sought to emulate. He wants two goalkeepers of similar ability fighting it out for one spot.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 19: David Ospina of Colombia gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Colombia and Cote D'Ivoire at Estadio Nacional on June 19, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

In Ospina, he’s managed to find someone at a reasonable price who is good enough to challenge Szczesny as No. 1. South American football expert Juan Arango told WorldSoccerTalk.com:

Right now, Ospina’s skill set is probably the most well-rounded you will see in European soccer. His qualities are well documented–quickness, ability to cut off angles, and vision.  Yet it is the work that he has done in the past few years to improve certain deficiencies in his game that are what make him such an interesting long-term project for Arsene Wenger, who saw him up close in Brazil just a few short weeks ago.

Rivalry between Szczesny and Ospina could only be a good thing for Arsenal. History suggests that competition tends to bring the best out of the Pole. When Fabianski was thriving in the cup competitions last season, Szczesny produced some of his best Arsenal performances to date. He responds well to the threat of being usurped.

Ospina’s arrival would ensure that pressure continues to push Szczesny. Should his performances dip, there is a Colombian international waiting in the wings to take centre stage. Ospina may have been signed as an understudy, but he’ll be determined to seize the spotlight for himself.

 

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report’s lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.

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