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Arsenal Transfer News: Jan Oblak Makes Atletico Madrid Exit Hint

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2018

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 11:  Jan Oblak of Atletico Madrid warms up prior to the La Liga match between Atletico Madrid and Celta de Vigo at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on March 11, 2018 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Jan Oblak has said he's not certain he will still be an Atletico Madrid player next season amid growing rumours linking the goalkeeper with Arsenal.

Oblak, who has performed superbly since replacing Thibaut Courtois between the sticks for Los Rojiblancos in 2014, said, per James Benge of the London Evening Standard: "It's not easy to talk about what's going to happen tomorrow never mind what will happen next season, but I am calm and the situation depends on Atletico—nobody knows the future."

The Slovenia international also went into detail about his contract situation with Atleti: "There's nothing new, there have been a lot of things said and written about a new contract but the only confirmed situation is that there is nothing new. I have a contract that I signed two years ago, but now I must wait to see what Atleti's plan is."

Oblak's reference to what has been said about his future could be aimed at comments made in February by club president Enrique Cerezo. He told Radio Marca (h/t Marca) the gifted goalie had already renewed his contract.

Oblak has denied there has been a change to his contract situation in Madrid.
Oblak has denied there has been a change to his contract situation in Madrid.Vladimir Rys Photography/Getty Images

Cerezo's words didn't stop the links to Arsenal, with AS (h/t Warren Haughton of The Sun) recently naming Oblak as the Gunners' top target, despite his hefty £88 million price tag.

Arsenal head of football relations Raul Sanllehi is said to be particularly keen on Atletico's No. 1.

It's a sentiment echoed by Benge, who named Oblak and AS Roma's Alisson as the primary options to replace Petr Cech and David Ospina this summer.

Oblak would be the dream get for Arsenal, even though the fee is daunting, while Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain are also keen, according to Benge.

Arsenal are reportedly considering replacements for both Ospina and Cech.
Arsenal are reportedly considering replacements for both Ospina and Cech.Yifan Ding/Getty Images

Goalkeeper is a position the Gunners have neglected for too long, certainly in terms of serious investment. Cech moved to north London in a deal worth £10 million in 2015, but the former Chelsea man has been anything but a steady pair of hands since.

The 35-year-old has looked more like a 'keeper whose skills are declining. He has been guilty of a series of high-profile blunders this season, most notably in 2-1 defeats at Bournemouth and Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.

Cech was culpable for all four goals Arsenal conceded. He's not as quick reacting to long shots as he used to be, while the agility and strength to get off the ground and contest the ball in the air also seems to have deserted the former Czech Republic international.

By contrast, Oblak is approaching the prime of his career. The 25-year-old has grown in stature during nearly four seasons in the Spanish capital. He's a terrific shot-stopper but has added a natural command of the box to his game.

Cech has struggled since joining Arsenal.
Cech has struggled since joining Arsenal.Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal need those qualities underpinning the back five if the team are going to compete for the Premier League title next season. However, it's far from certain Oblak would perform as well for the Gunners as he has with Atleti.

He's been supported by a formidable defence, which in turn has the extra security offered by a midfield as committed to protecting a lead as creating one. Los Rojiblancos have conceded just 14 goals in 29 matches in La Liga this season.

While Atletico are noted for defensive soundness on manager Diego Simeone's watch, Arsenal are often guilty of taking risks and being vulnerable to the break.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger loves his team to push forward and create, but there are few natural ball-winners in midfield. Meanwhile, the defence is suspect, with centre-backs Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi both accident-prone, while right-back Hector Bellerin can be caught out of position.

Oblak has benefited from having a brilliant defence in front of him.
Oblak has benefited from having a brilliant defence in front of him.Francisco Seco/Associated Press

It's no surprise the Gunners have conceded 41 goals during 30 league games.

Arsenal have systemic issues in defence, and the club's first priority has to be improving the talent level at the back. Acquiring Oblak would be the ideal start to finally turning a perennial weakness into a strength.

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