Mikel Arteta has admitted he’s surprised by comments by Bernd Leno about squad politics, following the German international’s departure to Fulham.
Earlier this week, quotes emerged from Bernd Leno in German outlet Sport Bild where he suggested he left Arsenal because the team selection had become focused on politics rather than performance.
“When I realized that it wasn’t about performance or quality, I knew I had to go,” Leno claimed. “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.”
When asked about the comments, Mikel Arteta admitted he was taken aback by the claims.
“I’m really surprised and I don’t know if he’s talking about the politics when he was starting every match or the politics when he wasn’t playing,” Arteta said. “Really surprised about it.”
The original interview makes it clear Leno is referring to Matt Turner, with the implication that he thinks the United States international goalkeeper was signed for the marketing benefits of his transfer.
By the time Leno spent any time with Turner in training, he was deep in negotiations over the Fulham move. To repaint the situation as deciding to leave after he got a look at his new teammate in training is disingenuous at best.
Considering Leno wouldn’t have been starting even if he was ahead of Turner in the pecking order, he wouldn’t have got any sort of playing “rhythm” together either way.
Aaron Ramsdale was the player keeping Leno out, and it was his failure to displace Ramsdale that pushed him towards the exit, whatever he claims.