Bernd Leno turned down Napoli and Atletico Madrid to join Arsenal, according to reports in Germany, with the club expected to announce his signature imminently.
Various reports suggest Leno’s arrival at Arsenal is now almost a certainty. The Guardian claim the Gunners have agreed a £19.2m deal with Bayer Leverkusen, with the goalkeeper signing on a five-year contract. The club could have to pay up to £3m in bonuses as part of the agreement.
German outlet Kicker suggest there was heavy competition for the 26-year-old’s signature. Napoli and Atletico Madrid both reportedly showed significant interest in signing Leno, but “the goalkeeper himself clearly had a tendency to move to London”.
The reason for Leno’s choice becomes apparent if you look at interviews with the man himself earlier this year. He said in March: “If I go abroad, then it will not be as a number 1 contender, but only as clear number 1.”
At Atletico Madrid, they have Jan Oblak, so it would be a battle just to get into the team for any goalkeeper. The spot is more open at Napoli, but it seems Leno fancied his chances more at Arsenal.
That’s probably a fair enough assessment, given the Gunners have two goalkeepers with one year left on their contract, and a long list of mistakes behind them in 2017/18. Hopefully Arsenal can complete the signing soon, and Leno can prove he’s worthy of the first-choice spot.