The Hale Ender set to follow in Emi Martinez’s footsteps and impress Mikel Arteta in pre-season


As Emi Martinez made save after save en route to Argentina’s Copa America triumph this month, many Arsenal fans were left to question what might have been.

It is well known by now the story of how the 28-year-old waited eight years for his chance to shine at the Emirates and grabbed it with both hands last season after Bernd Leno‘s injury against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Following that run of form, there was a debate over which of the two stoppers the Gunners should choose as their number one, in which they ultimately sided with the German. It is one that is revisited time and again each time Martinez plays well or Leno doesn’t, to the extent that it is getting quite frankly tiresome at this point.

Instead of dwelling on the past, though, perhaps now it is time for Arsenal to look towards the future.


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As Mikel Arteta‘s side head into pre-season, they do so with a young academy goalkeeper having just committed his future to the club.

The Gunners confirmed last week that Arthur Okonkwo had signed a three-year contract extension to stay in north London.

Along with the news came the announcement that the Hale Ender was to be given the number 33 shirt for next season, ahead of his official promotion to the first team.

While the 19-year-old is undoubtedly viewed as a prospect for the long term at the Emirates it seems as though he may be about to get his senior opportunity much sooner than expected.

Arsenal travelled up to Scotland on Monday for their pre-season training camp across the coming week. In that time they will play friendlies against Hibernian and Rangers before returning to London ahead of a trip to America to take part in the Florida Cup.

They will do so, though, without their first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who is currently on holiday after spending time away at the Euros with Germany where he served as understudy to Manuel Neuer.

The Gunners’ second choice ‘keeper from last season Mat Ryan has also left the club ahead of his expected move to Real Sociedad this summer, where he will be given the chance to be a number one.

This opens up a chance for Okonkwo to play up in Scotland and potentially impress.



Arthur Okonkwo has signed a long-term deal in north London. (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images).
Arthur Okonkwo has signed a long-term deal in north London. (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images).

Runar Alex Runarsson returned to London Colney on Wednesday for pre-season training, but after his underwhelming performances last campaign and a heavy links with a move away, you would back the Hale Ender to be given a nod.

Arsenal are in the market for a goalkeeper this summer to play back up to Leno and football.london understands that they are considering someone homegrown to fill the spot.

Aaron Ramsdale of Sheffield United has been linked most heavily, along with West Brom’s Sam Johnstone and David Raya of Brentford.

However, you would imagine that if Okonkwo is able to impress this summer and no suitable options come up in the transfer market, that the 19-year-old could be trusted for the upcoming season.

The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.

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It would be a risk no doubt to have someone who has never played a senior match before as your number two for the season, but Arsenal will be wary of over-spending on a player when they have so much to do this window.

Having signed his deal, Okonkwo probably wouldn’t have been expecting his chance to come around so quickly, but it seems this could be it.

This promises to be a massive week for the Hale Ender who is very highly rated by those within the club.





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