Premier League goalkeeper woes look likely to create a net of top-flight transfers

Liverpool's Pepe Reina is one goalkeeper who wishes to play in the Champions League next seasonRetirements, a loss of interest in the club, or just a comedy of errors that can only mean a player isn’t up to the task. For whatever reason, we’re soon to witness one of, if not the most goalkeeper-influenced transfer window in the history of the Premier League. Even more surprising is the fact that it’s the top teams experiencing the most trouble. Perhaps this explains why the league-leaders seem to have been so beatable by ‘lesser opposition’ this term, but regardless they all need a bit of a shift at the back.

First, and most obvious, is the ensuing departure of Edwin van der Sar. The 40 year-old former Dutch international has been open over the past six months regarding his intentions to retire in May. Although the veteran stopper will be dejected following his team’s FA Cup semi-final exit on Saturday, the season still looks to be a good note to leave on as they chase success in the Premier League, as well as the Champion’s League.

January’s acquisition of Dane Anders Lindegaard would have eased Manchester United’s worries in terms of future prospects. However, when you heap on Tomasz Kuszczak’s intentions to leave the club also, the Red Devils certainly are in need of a top-quality keeper to protect that magical goal-difference that they just love to rack up. Names already engraved on the Manchester United shortlist are Pepe Reina, Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and Maarten Stekelenburg.

However, it’s Atletico Madrid’s David de Gea who looks to have made the biggest steps towards Old Trafford do far. The Manchester outfit are rumoured to already have agreed a £20m fee for the Spaniard. However, gossip emerging that Chelsea are on a similar stance with the keeper doesn’t bolster their chances of snatching his signature.

Another team who will be vying rabidly for the signature of Pepe Reina is ironically the team that already has it. The 2nd choice Spain international has been honest about his unhappiness at Liverpool, and as such is being associated more and more with a move away. At a time, Reina seemed genuinely content at Anfield, but like his national compatriot Fernando Torres, it looks as if the allure of Champion’s League football may just prove too strong an attraction to keep him at Merseyside.

It really does seem as if Reina wants his current club to succeed, and Kenny Dalglish may just be the man to convince the 28 year-old to stay. However, with Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City putting a Shay Given swap deal on the table, such a feat looks highly unlikely for King Kenny. Another possibility is the Spaniard going back to his home nation to play for Atletico Madrid as his father did. A ‘transfer triangle’ if you will, that would involve the aforementioned Manchester United nabbing Atletico stopper David de Gea.

In another season where Arsenal look to finish yet again without silverware, it’s the usual culprits that need to be ousted. A triple combination of one Spaniard and two Poles has resulted in another series of memorable Arsenal goalkeeping moments. The only problem being that they’re memorable for all the wrong reasons. The argument is there that current first choice Wojciech Szczesny was responsible for a last minute Carling Cup final loss, and the dubious duo of Fabianski and Almunia have come up with their usual donation of errors. Arsene Wenger stays adamant that Szczesny is where the future of Arsenal goalkeeping lies, however I very much think otherwise.

In the last four years, Arsenal have consecutively conceded the more goals than any team that has finished above them. Now, not that my skills in mathematics are anything to brag about but that says to me, combined with what Wenger has seen on the pitch, that a new shotstopper is essential. However, the one man who’s opinion matters has stubbornly refused to act on this instead just putting the problem down to his centre-backs. It stands to argue though, that the purchase of a top-class goalkeeper would galvanize a Gunners back five that sorely needs it, and may finally put an end to their trophy drought.

Last and perhaps the most calamitous keeper of all is Tottenham’s Heurelho Gomes. The Brazilian’s most recent exploit was being one-handedly responsible for Spurs’ 1-0 home defeat to Real Madrid in the Champion’s League. While this result was not solely responsible for Tottenham’s exit from the competition, it left a sour taste in fans’ mouths after their first experience in the Champion’s League came to a sad end.

Gomes has been an entertaining spectacle since arriving from PSV in 2008. He’s made us laugh, he’s made us cry but best of all he’s defied physics so many times, he’s made us give that ‘But how did he..?’ reaction more times than I can shake a stick at. While the South-American is capable of brilliance at times, it seems Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal last Wednesday will be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Names being thrown around to fill the supposed gap in the Spurs’ defence are Gianluigi Buffon, Coventry’s Keiren Westwood and ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster, who would be available for about £12m.

This summer transfer window will see keepers coming and going, being exported and imported, so it will be interesting to see who snaps up the premium targets, while others are left to squabble at the scraps. This fight will traverse countries and leagues, and could prove to be more valuable than one of those ‘goal-scoring machines’ everyone used to go on about. As many a manger look to replace their current No1s, we can bank on seeing at least two top-class keepers heading for new pastures this summer.

Tom is one of our most experienced contributors, with over a decade of online publishing. A Man Utd fan, Thomas brings you all the latest news from UK football.

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