Arsenal have completed the signing of goalkeeper Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen, throwing Petr Cech’s future at the club into doubt.
The deal was announced after Arsenal reportedly agreed a €25 million fee with Leverkusen.
Leno, 26, brings immediate competition for the starting spot and most likely means Arsenal will sell one of their two previous goalkeepers — Cech or Colombia international David Ospina — though it remains unclear which one will have to give way.
Ospina has been linked with a move to Turkey, while reports in Italy have claimed Napoli would be interested in taking Cech on loan.
However, Cech only has one year left on his contract and new coach Unai Emery could still view him as his No. 1 with Leno the anointed long-term replacement.
“We are very pleased that Bernd Leno will be joining us,” Emery said in a statement. “Bernd is a goalkeeper of high quality and experience. He has been a top performer and regular number one goalkeeper with Leverkusen in the Bundesliga for the past seven years. We are all excited that Bernd has chosen Arsenal Football Club and look forward to start working with him in preseason.”
Cech was criticised last season for a number of uncharacteristic mistakes, and Wenger insisted on using Ospina as his cup goalkeeper, including in the Europa League.
Leno has been regarded as one of the top goalkeepers in the Bundesliga for the past few seasons and was part of the Germany team that won the Confederations Cup last summer. However, he was left out of the World Cup squad by Joachim Low, leaving him free to negotiate an early transfer. Bernd Leno has been Bayer Leverkusen’s No. 1 for seven seasons. Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images
The keeper is the second signing announced since Emery replaced Arsene Wenger, with right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner joining on a free transfer from Juventus. However, sources have told ESPN FC that a deal for Borussia Dortmund centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos has also been completed and will be announced in July.
Arsenal are also hoping to sign defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria, but talks are dragging out with the Uruguay international competing at the World Cup.
That quartet, though, is a clear sign that Emery’s top priority is to rebuild Arsenal’s struggling defence — the team’s biggest weakness during the latter years of Wenger’s reign.