Bernd Leno believes his relegation to backup goalkeeper at Arsenal wasn’t about his level of performance, and that’s why he had to leave.
Bernd Leno joined Fulham from Arsenal over the summer, leaving on a permanent deal having lost his starting role to Aaron Ramsdale to be left competing with summer signing Matt Turner for the first-choice backup position.
Speaking about his decision to leave Arsenal, Leno said it was his decision after he lost his spot.
“When I realized that it wasn’t about performance or quality, I knew I had to go,” Leno explained. “During training, I saw that it’s not about performance, it’s just about politics. It was clear to me: I have to get out of here.
“The most important thing for me (in terms of a potential World Cup spot this winter) is to find my rhythm again.
“Especially after I wasn’t actually able to train properly at Arsenal and had no preparation. It’s up to me to get the focus back on the national team.”
Ramsdale joined Arsenal and quickly displaced Leno as a starter, holding his position as the club’s number one for the remainder of his first season and the start of the next one.
Turner completed his transfer to Arsenal in June, and he played a few games in pre-season, but he’s yet to make a competitive appearance for the Gunners.
Though many have assumed that Leno is referring to Turner, believing the decision to sign an American as a backup may have been a marketing move, it seems unlikely.
There was very little crossover between Turner and Leno, with Turner only joining up with the squad for pre-season after Leno had already pulled out of it to pursue a transfer.
Instead, it seems more likely that Leno believes Ramsdale took his spot in some form of squad politics, rather than because he was playing better than the German.
It’s hard to blame Leno. Goalkeepers have to believe they deserve to be number one and starting every game, or else it becomes too easy to grow disheartened and demotivated.
But Arsenal are better with Ramsdale in the team. That’s the unfortunate fact of the matter, whatever Leno thinks.