Arsenal's interest in Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno is said to be increasing, and the Gunners are expected to launch a move for his services this summer after learning he has a €25 million (£22 million) buyout clause.
The Mirror's Neil Moxley reported Arsenal want the Germany international as a replacement for Petr Cech, who will soon enter the final year of his deal at the Emirates Stadium.
Cech, 35, is nearly 10 years Leno's senior and has attracted some scrutiny that the quality of his performances has declined this season, although the same could be said for numerous stars among Arsenal's ranks.
The former Chelsea No. 1 moved to north London in 2015 after Thibaut Courtois budged him out of Stamford Bridge, and JOE.co.uk celebrated some of his best moments as he approaches the end of his 14th Premier League season:
Leno is nearer the other end of his career and could leave the BayArena for an affordable sum in the summer, seven years after he moved to Leverkusen from Stuttgart.
Despite joining as a youngster—he was 19 at the time—Leno quickly established himself as Die Werkself's go-to man between the posts and has reigned ever since, making more than 300 appearances in Leverkusen colours.
Manager Arsene Wenger will leave the Emirates this summer, making it as good a time as any for Arsenal to invest in the goalkeeper position. Leno looks likely to be a part of Germany's 2018 FIFA World Cup squad and boasts a big potential upside at only 26.
It was recently suggested Arsenal could have Napoli for competition in the transfer market this summer, although Goal's Ronan Murphy pointed to evidence that suggests to the contrary:
Ronan Murphy @swearimnotpaul
Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno will not be going to Napoli. His agent Uli Ferber to Bild: "I can confirm that there were negotiations with Napoli, which we have broken off. Napoli is not an option." Atletico Madrid and Arsenal are the other strong rumours. #B04 #AFC
The Gunners will be glad to have the Serie A giants as one less contender they need to beat to Leno's signature, with news of a buyout clause sure to stir interest among European suitors.
As well as seeing standards drop in open play, it seems Cech's decline has seeped into dead-ball scenarios, too, per Indy Football:
David Ospina has been second-choice stopper at Arsenal since arriving four years ago, but it could be Cech who sits as deputy for his last year with the club, as long as he remains beyond this summer.
Leno's buyout clause puts him within reach of the Premier League outfit, the only questions being whether he'll be the man who gets their approval as a Cech successor and if they can beat any rivals to his signing.