The Gunners got it all wrong by selling their titan whose value has skyrocketed.
Arsenal are one of the most famous clubs in all of English football, but also one that has had a renowned soft underbelly, especially during the later years of Arsene Wenger’s illustrious reign.
The Frenchman led his club to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, with that glittering success wrapped in a beautiful play style that arguably revolutionised the division.
His methods were unlike anything England had ever seen, and as such he pushed all those around him to emulate his success.
Mikel Arteta is the latest head coach tasked with recapturing some semblance of the 73-year-old’s legendary tenure, but will also be keen to rid the north London side of that weakness in both mentality and physicality that has held them back against more aggressive opponents like Manchester United in the past, and Liverpool more recently.
Fortunately, his cut-throat start to life at the Emirates suggested his leadership would be unlike anything they had seen since Wenger’s departure, with the 41-year-old’s willingness to sacrifice star names unparalleled. Players such as Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette all fell fowl of his and Edu’s revolution, despite their respective talents and what they had offered in the past.
Another who was ruthlessly shown the exit door was Bernd Leno, who despite being on a far smaller scale than that trio, was still a questionable departure at the time. His performances since leaving have only exacerbated that notion.
How good is Bernd Leno?
Having joined from Bayer Leverkusen after enjoying a number of outstanding seasons in his homeland, the German international marked a huge acquisition to usher in a new era of goalkeeping.
A sensational shot-stopper with the capability to keep opposition strikers silent with his cat-like reflexes, it took no time at all for the 31-year-old to take to English football. This was especially important given the year before they were forced to endure an entire term with Petr Cech in between the sticks, with the ageing legend having overseen a dramatic downturn in form.
Wenger craved some fresh energy in goal, and in Leno, he had certainly found it.
Whilst his first year was admirable, the second arguably marked an apex for his time at the Emirates, having managed a 7.11 average rating, buoyed by his 3.8 saves per game, via Sofascore. Such reliance on the 6 foot 2 titan would become a theme throughout his time in England, which has certainly been extended to his stint with Fulham too.
That move would come about following an unfortunate injury sustained in 2020, as a challenge by Brighton and Hove Albion’s Neal Maupay saw the goalkeeper leave the field on a stretcher, writhing in pain. This allowed Emiliano Martinez to take his starting spot for the remainder of the campaign, thus kickstarting one of football’s most ridiculous Butterfly Effect moments as the Argentine went on to become a national team regular, before playing a key role in their recent World Cup win.
Although Leno would survive for one more season following, it marked his last as number one, with Aaron Ramsdale then recruited in his place.
A move to Craven Cottage would beckon, where he has since established himself as one of the division’s finest shot-stoppers. This term has seen the nine-cap star average a 7.50 rating in the Premier League, managing a whopping 4.1 saves per game, via Sofascore.
Although Arteta would likely not regret his decision to bring in the former Sheffield United and AFC Bournemouth star, given both he and David Raya are likely far better-suited to his current squad, there must be a pang of frustration at the fee recouped from his sale.
After all, in the eyes of Marco Silva, Leno is now “he is one of the best two goalkeepers in this competition.”
How much did Arsenal sign Bernd Leno for?
Given the interest surrounding the former Stuttgart star, his acquisition was always bound to be tricky to navigate without breaking the bank.
After all, his move did come after he was in the conversation to be the best in his role within the Bundesliga, which was an argument their official website even posed.
Despite that, the £19.2m expended hardly marked a jaw-dropping fee, and in the long run likely turned into a bargain even if his presence could not instigate a return to the top that they sought.
How much did Arsenal sell Bernd Leno for?
Whilst it would be expected that after four largely successful years with Arsenal they could have commanded a decent fee for his exit, that could not have been further from the truth with regard to Leno’s departure.
After all, the £3m that the Cottagers paid even took the player in question by surprise, who spoke to the Evening Standard: “I have to say it’s a bargain. It’s very, very cheap, especially in the Premier League. I am not £3m — I’m probably worth a little bit more. Otherwise I would be a very bad player!”
With that being said, he departed the Emirates with no hard feelings, noting: “I don’t have toxic [feelings] or bad energy for Arsenal. It didn’t end in the perfect way, but my reception at the Emirates was really good. I get fans coming up to me saying, ‘thank you for your four years… you were very good.”
What is Bernd Leno’s market value now?
To outline exactly why this has proven to be such a disastrous piece of business, it is worth outlining how the keeper has revitalised his image with a string of fine performances for Fulham.
In fact, Transfermarkt offer a new valuation for their number 17, instead suggesting that he is now worth a much more appropriate €12m (£10.4m). This actually marks a 246% increase since departing north London.
Is Bernd Leno better than David Raya?
As one of the main talking points which continues to rage on throughout this current season, the battle between Ramsdale and Raya for Arteta’s number-one spot has been an enthralling one.
Whilst the latter may have emerged victorious for now, it is worth noting just how well-suited the ball-playing ace is to a philosophy that might leave Leno behind.
After all, whilst he stars when it comes to making saves, the frequency with which he is called into action is certainly worth taking into account. His side concede 9.4 shots per game this term, and yet his Spanish alternative has managed a 7.23 average rating despite making only 1.7 saves per game.
It is his 83% pass accuracy that is far more important for a side desperate to play attractive football, and thus why Raya has eventually succeeded Leno.