Arthur Okonkwo might end up staying at Arsenal to act as their third-choice goalkeeper despite recent exit reports, but Karl Hein is looking to go on loan.
Speaking on the Arsecast, James McNicholas of The Athletic gave his thoughts on Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation going into the summer.
“I think there’s a chance that Okonkwo might be third-choice next season,” McNicholas said.
“I believe Karl Hein is going to go out on loan, but I had been led to believe that they might look to bring in somebody more experienced to be the third choice.
“I think Arsenal made enquiries over a couple of keepers of a similar profile (to Manchester City’s Scott Carson), experienced veterans who would just be an emergency stopgap.”
Hein spent the 2022/23 campaign with Arsenal, making one competitive appearance for Mikel Arteta’s side and a couple of further appearances in mid-season friendlies.
A loan makes sense to get the Estonian goalkeeper a season of regular football now, after his last short-term loan was disrupted by injury.
That leaves Arsenal with a spot to fill, and it appears that Okonkwo’s future will be key.
If the goalkeeper is willing to stick around, it should be a straightforward decision for the club to use him in that role. But outside interest could prompt him to push for a move.
Goal recently reported that interest in Okonkwo is mounting ahead of the summer window, with several clubs in England and abroad chasing a summer transfer.
There’s significant interest emerging from Germany, and an Arsenal departure this summer was described as a “strong possibility”.
Clubs are expected to make contact with Arsenal in the coming weeks looking to strike a deal, with Okonkwo now having concluded his loan with Sturm Graz.
The 21-year-old has had an impressive season. He started out with League Two side Crewe Alexandra, keeping 10 clean sheets before Arsenal made the decision to recall him and loan him back out to Austria.
The move seemed like a good idea, with Okonkwo jumping from fourth-tier English football to first-tier Austrian football, but it’s probably gone even better than anyone hoped.
The highlight of Okonkwo’s Sturm Graz spell was keeping a clean sheet in the final of the OFB Cup as his side lifted the trophy over Rapid Vienna.
Okonkwo had also made a save in the quarter-final penalty shootout win over RB Salzburg, and kept a clean sheet in the semi-final against LASK, so he was a key part of their trophy win.
On top of that, Okonkwo helped Sturm Graz push Salzburg to the end of the Austrian Bundesliga title race.
The Arsenal loanee made 44 appearances and kept 16 clean sheets between his two loan spells.