Mikel Arteta wants Arsenal to sign Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon amid Bernd Leno’s inconsistent form, according to reports.
Arsenal decided to stick with Leno when they were faced with a goalkeeping dilemma last summer. Emiliano Martinez had stepped into his role towards the end of the season and impressed. However, Arsenal opted to sell Martinez to Aston Villa and put their faith in Leno when he returned from injury.
They may be coming to regret that decision now. Martinez has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League with Villa but Leno has suffered with inconsistency.
The German’s latest blunder came in their loss to Everton on Friday, essentially gifting the points to their opponents. It raised further questions of his credentials in the number one role.
The situation has since developed and according to La Razon, Arteta wants a new keeper. Athletic shot-stopper Simon is the man he has identified as the solution.
Simon has forced his way into the Spain reckoning recently thanks to his good form in La Liga. This is just his second season as a first-team regular at San Mames but he is already more than comfortable.
The 23-year-old could therefore earn a move away should his form continue. Compatriot Arteta wants Arsenal to take advantage.
Simon remains under contract in the Basque Country until 2025. However, Athletic are aware that they could cash in on his potential by adding him to the conveyer belt of talent they have sold over the years.
Athletic still operate with a Basque-only policy when recruiting players, which limits their options. But they have already found someone who fits their criteria to replace Simon, as they could try to re-sign their former youth product, the now-29-year-old Aitor Fernandez.
It seems they are preparing for Simon’s departure and that could be good news for Arsenal. However, they are not the only team looking at the six-cap Spaniard.
According to La Razon, West Ham are also keeping tabs on Simon as they look to replenish their goalkeeping department.
Ex-Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski has pledged his future for next season, but he is one of three keepers West Ham have who are all in their mid-30s. At some point, they will need another option for the long-term.
Simon could provide them with what they need for years to come if they can manage to convince him.
Also in the chasing pack for Simon are Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund and Ligue 1 challengers Monaco.
Simon was linked with Manchester City recently as potential competition for Ederson. But La Razon do not mention them as a suitor and it seems he would rather move somewhere else to be the undisputed first choice.
Arsenal backed to sign Ryan
In addition to the first-choice goalkeeper, the identity of Arsenal’s backup in that position for next season is unclear.
They signed Runar Alex Runarsson to replace Martinez, but were underwhelmed by his performances. That prompted them to swoop for Brighton’s Mat Ryan on loan in January.
Ryan has had a few more opportunities and has been fairly comfortable in the role. Therefore, one pundit has told them they should sign him permanently in the summer.
“I think that is really smart,” former Gunners striker Kevin Campbell said of news they could sign Ryan for between £3m and £5m.
“Mat Ryan is enjoying it at Arsenal and they’ve enjoyed having him at the club. He is an Arsenal fan so he has that love for the club as well.
“If we can get him for £4million that is cheap money. Let’s be honest £4million is nothing these days.”