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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Arsenal targeting USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner as backup amid doubts over Bernd Leno’s future

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Arsenal are targeting U.S. international goalkeeper Matt Turner as a new backup. In a move that could spell a January exit for Bernd Leno, current backup for Aaron Ramsdale, the Gunners have identified Turner as the man to succeed the German, who was left out of the matchday squad for the EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Liverpool on Thursday with a back injury. 

News of Arsenal’s interest in Turner was first revealed by ESPN’s Taylor Twellman. The 27-year-old has been stellar in MLS play since taking over the starting role for the New England Revolution in 2018.  He has risen into a time-share with Zack Steffen for the United States men’s national team goalkeeping job and also helped the Revolution break the MLS points record this past season.

While there are concerns over Turner’s ability to play with his feet, his shot-stopping quality can’t be denied when needed in a pinch as a backup.

From a national team perspective, having your top two keepers as backup options at the club level isn’t optimal, but the quality that Turner would face in training in the Premier League can still elevate his game in a World Cup year. Playing with Ramsdale could also improve Turner’s distribution, making him a more attractive option for Gregg Berhalter’s No. 1 spot between the sticks.

What would happen to Leno?

The writing has been on the wall for Leno since Ramsdale was handed the starting spot in the Arsenal goal after his arrival from Sheffield United. Out of contract in the summer of 2023, Leno’s exit would free up further salary for the Gunners with Turner unlikely to command a similar wage packet to a German international. Talks over an extension had not been initiated by the club even when he was established as a starter.

For his part Leno has been open to leaving Arsenal, whom he joined from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2018. In April he told CBS Sports that he was open to “a new adventure” though ultimately no interested suitors made a bid last summer. He has since been linked to Newcastle United.

Leno is not the only high earner who could depart this month. CBS Sports revealed on Wednesday that Saudi club Al Nassr have submitted an offer for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, an initial loan deal with a $9 million mandatory purchase clause. So far that is the only offer submitted to Arsenal, who are ready to part ways with their highest earner, though AC Milan, Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain are also interested in him.

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