Schwarzer out, Stekelenburg in?
Written by Basil James.
It is common knowledge that Manuel Almunia, or any of the other three goal keepers Arsenal have at the moment, will not be wearing the number 1 jersey in the coming season. Arsenal have been in the market for a shot stopper for quite some time now. Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer seemed to be the favourite to move to the Emirates, but the chances of the Socceroos goalie donning the Arsenal colours seem to be dwindling as I write. The new name on the horizon is that of the Dutch goal keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Stekelenburg is rated at £ 4 million and would definitely be a good buy for Wenger. The Dutchman impressed in the World Cup, producing some fine stops and, though he did let in half a dozen goals, caught the eye for being a consistent keeper with good technique. Having won quite a few titles with Ajax in the Eredivisie, Stekelenburg certainly has the experience needed to play in a top flight team like Arsenal. He was named the Ajax “Player of the Year” in 2007-08 and has re-established himself as the number 1 for Ajax despite a season plagued by injuries and indifferent form.
Ajax’s financial troubles are well documented and they have accepted the fact that a few of their regualrs may be leaving the club in this transfer window. Maarten Stekelenburg is not exactly their top priority right now as the Dutch club tries to hang on to their star striker Luis Suarez and other impressive players such as Van der Wiel. At £ 4 million, Stekelenburg is a cut-price option for Wenger and a very good one at that.
The chief agents of the goal keeper have remained mum over the issue, probably in an attempt to increase the transfer value of the player. Reports suggest that Arsenal have, in fact, officially communicated their interest to Ajax, but the Dutch club is yet to respond as of writing. An Ajax insider reported that “I don’t think Luis Suarez will leave us this summer but as for the others, there’s a good chance one or two have to leave”. The insider went on to add that “I know there’s an English club interested in the goalkeeper, for sure”.
It is obvious that Arsenal badly need a quality goal keeper for the coming season if they are to win a title for the first time in six seasons. Almunia and Fabianski have been given opportunities but they have often performed short of expectations. The Mark Schwarzer saga has been dragging on for quite some time now and after a rejected offer, we may consider that chapter closed. Stekelenburg is only 27 years old, a whole ten years less than Schwarzer. he has played on the big stage, capped by a good World Cup. Maarten Stekelenburg could be the solution to Arsenal’s long standing goal keeping woes. I hope Arsene can snap him up without much ado.
A great club must have a great goal keeper and that is an argument even Sarah Palin would not refudiate.
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