Arsenal are in advanced talks with Bayer Leverkusen to sign goalkeeper Bernd Leno, according to Sky sources. Here’s what we know about the German stopper…
With Petr Cech having turned 36 in May, the Gunners are after a long-term replacement and Leno appears to be the man they have settled on.
The 26-year-old missed out on a place in Germany’s World Cup squad but has proven himself to be one of the standout ‘keepers in the Bundesliga over the past few seasons.
Bernd Leno Factfile
- Age: 26
- Position: Goalkeeper
- Current club: Bayer Leverkusen
- Born: Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany
- International caps: Six
- Honours: Confederations Cup (2017), U17 European Championships (2009)
In at the deep end
Leno joined Leverkusen from Stuttgart in 2011, initially on loan before the move was made permanent a few months later, and has gone on to make 304 appearances for the Bundesliga club.
He made his debut less than a week after making the switch and became just the third goalkeeper to keep clean sheets in each of his first three Bundesliga matches.
In September 2011, Leno started Leverkusen’s Champions League game against Chelsea at the age of just 19 years and 193 days, making him the youngest goalkeeper to play in the competition at that time.
The German quickly established himself as Leverkusen’s No 1 and has missed just four league games in his six full seasons at the BayArena, meaning he has made Bundesliga appearances than any other goalkeeper in that time.
Not only that but since the start of the 2014/15 season, only Manuel Neuer (56) has kept more clean sheets than Leno’s 45 in the Bundesliga.
Leno may be one of a number of talented German goalkeepers in the game today but his hero growing up was not Oliver Kahn or Andreas Kopke, but rather Iker Casillas.
The Stuttgart youth product modelled his game on Real Madrid and Spain legend and believes there are similarities in their games.
“I used to watch a lot of Casillas growing up,” Leno is quoted as saying on Bundesliga.com. “He’s perhaps peaked now, but he won it all and has been unbelievably consistent. He’s calm and no-nonsense, I’m the same. I don’t have to make a show of myself to stand out.”
As well as his sharp reflexes, Leno’s bravery is another aspect of his game that has been praised over the years with the 26-year-old having proven himself more than willing to put his body on the line by throwing himself at the feet of attackers to make point-blank saves or smother shots.
World Cup disappointment
Where Leno still has some way to go to match his idol, Casillas, is his consistency, which may go some way to explaining why he missed out on selection for Germany’s World Cup squad.
He received criticism after making two errors in Germany’s 3-2 win over Australia during last year’s Confederations Cup and since the start of the 2015/16 Bundesliga season, only Olivier Baumann has made more errors leading to opposition goals than the nine made by Leno.
However, after seven years with Leverkusen, perhaps a change of scenery could be just what Leno needs to help him refocus, cut out the errors and take his game to the next level. If the move goes through, Arsenal fans will certainly hope so.
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