Bernd Leno has officially joined the Arsenal; the German goalkeeper’s move from Leverkusen to London was confirmed on Tuesday evening by both clubs. He’s believed to have signed a 5 year contract after the Clubs agreed on a fee in the region of £19.2m. Leno has six caps for Germany to date and was part of the victorious Confederations Cup squad back in 2017. Having held down a regular spot in the Bayer Leverkusen team for the best part of seven years Bernd has an abundance of top-level experience and most Gunners’ fans will be pleased with Unai Emery’s latest acquisition.
However, that wasn’t the only significant transfer news to come out of the Club last night as Jack Wilshere announced his imminent departure via social media, ending his 17 year association with the Club. Jack spoke of his willingness to accept a reduced contract in order to remain an Arsenal player but the fact Unai Emery was unable to guarantee him significant playing time proved the decisive factor.
The Time is Right…
You may not see it right away, as supporters it’s incredibly difficult to detach ourselves from the emotion of it all. Jack is a player with whom most Arsenal fans felt a special bond with and many feel deeply saddened by the news. Wilshere joined the Club’s Academy aged just 9, made his first team debut at 16, has accumulated 197 appearances for the club and has lifted two FA Cup’s.
But put your emotions and feelings to one side, from a football standpoint this is a decision that makes perfect sense for both parties. Everybody is well aware of the injury problems that have stunted Jack’s progression over the years but in truth even when fit, I personally feel he’s been unable to live up to the level of expectation around him. He’s a player who’s style is pleasing on the eye however its perfectly fair to criticize his inability to influence games anywhere near as much as a young, fitter Jack could.
The injuries have taken their toll and despite making 40 appearances this season he still seemed to lack the sharpness and mobility required to perform at the highest level consistently.
Unai Emery has been honest with the player, shared his plans for the new season and clearly knows what he wants. I suspect the Spaniard doesn’t believe Jack is physically capable of playing the intense pressing game he’s been known to demand from his midfielders and so his refusal to provide Jack with any guarantee’s is totally understandable.
The time is right for Jack to move on and embark on pastures new, whether he’ll join another Premier League club or rival remains to be seen. A fresh start may be just what he needs to rediscover the form that initially put him on the map and reclaim his place in the England Squad.
I’d like to wish Jack all the best in the future and assure him he’ll always have a place in the hearts of most Arsenal supporters. This is a summer of change at the Emirates and it’s vital our feelings and sentiment don’t hinder the much-needed rebuild.