Arsenal are set for a busy end to the summer transfer window, both in terms of incomings and outgoings.
One of the positions the club is looking to address is the goalkeeping situation.
Currently, Bernd Leno is the undisputed number one, and whilst the German has been a key performer for the north Londoners since joining the club in 2018, many aren’t convinced that he is the right man between the sticks.
Since the arrival of Mikel Arteta, the Spaniard has set his team out to play a possession-based brand of football, with the idea placed solely on playing out from the back and ensuring the ball is progressed forward at a quick rate.
In order for this to come to fruition, the goalkeeper must be calm and composed on the ball as well as being capable of making the right decisions in possession.
Whilst Leno has demonstrated his ability to produce heroic saves, particularly during the Unai Emery era, the German international struggles with the ball at his feet, often putting teammates under severe pressure with the type of passes he plays along with frequently taking too long to release the ball.
Furthermore, despite the Gunners finishing 8th in successive seasons under Arteta, the former Arsenal captain has drastically improved his team from a defensive point of view.
Previously, Arsenal’s goal was under siege with bucket loads of shots, forcing Leno into making saves regularly, and quite often, the 29-year-old excelled in bailing his team out of jail consistently.
But with Arteta implementing a successful defensive structure, his side is now facing fewer shots on goal. It’s therefore imperative that the goalkeeper is capable of maintaining concentration levels over the course of 90 minutes – an aspect which Leno has failed to provide.
In games where the former Bayern Leverkusen man has had minimal involvement, Leno has had the tendency to switch off and make poor mistakes when called into action, with his blunder against Everton at the Emirates stadium a clear example to illustrate this.
Aaron Ramsdale has been heavily linked with a move to the Emirates but following talks collapsing between Lyon and Ajax over the sale of Andre Onana, perhaps the Gunners may reignite their interest in the Cameroon stopper and if they were able to acquire the talented keeper, it would arguably go down as the club’s signing of the summer.
The perfect fit
There aren’t many goalkeepers in world football who are as comfortable on the ball as Onana. The 25-year-old possesses an array of skills in possession and is capable of distributing the ball efficiently with both his right and left foot.
Whether it’s a line-breaking pass played along the ground or a floated ball delivered over the top, the Cameroon international excels at beating a press in multiple ways.
Statistically, Onana completes 8.33 long passes per 90 minutes, ranking him in the 86th percentile. Comparatively, Leno only delivers 3.10 successful long balls per game.
Furthermore, what’s been very apparent in pre-season is how the Arsenal manager is instructing his men to press aggressively from the front.
In order for this to work, the team must squeeze together as a collective unit, which results in the backline occupying advanced positions upfield. It’s therefore imperative that the goalkeeper can act as a ‘sweeper keeper’, and this is another aspect Onana excels in with the frame below demonstrating the composure he shows outside of his area.
Whilst it’s very apparent that Onana is exceptional with the ball at his feet, the Cameroon international’s shot stoping capabilities are also excellent.
When analysing underlying data from fbref.com, Onana boasts a 77.8% save percentage, ranking him in the 99th percentile which eclipses Leno’s numbers in this area, with Arsenal’s number 1 preventing just 69.2% of the shots he faces.
A commanding presence
In the Premier League, goalkeepers must be confident in dealing with set-pieces against physical opposition and when considering Onana’s presence, he certainly wouldn’t struggle in this aspect.
Standing at 6ft 3in, Onana is quick to scan his surroundings and regularly claims the ball assertively, which allows his team to reset.
Do you want all the latest news from around Arsenal Football Club straight to your email inbox?
Of course you do.
By signing up for our Arsenal newsletter, you will receive a twice-daily email, focused on all the latest news from the Emirates Stadium.
And, not only that, but you will get exclusive content from our club writers Chris Wheatley and Kaya Kaynak before anyone else.
You won’t miss a thing when it comes to the Gunners.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
Alternatively, you can click here and tick the Arsenal box to subscribe for our Gunners newsletter.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
Whilst Leno shares the same height as Onana, the German has failed to provide a calming influence when crosses are delivered into the box, particularly from corners.
The current disadvantages with the potential signing of Onana lie through off-the-field issues. The 25-year-old is currently undergoing a doping ban which has ruled him out of competitive action until November 4 and with the Africa Cup of Nations commencing early next year, there would be periods of the season where he would be unavailable.
But when considering his age, the fact he’s tailored to Arteta’s style of football along with being available for a reported £7m – around £25m less than a fee quotes for Ramsdale – it makes sense for the club to pull the trigger as it would certainly be a great long-term investment.