Free agent goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, he of 175 appearances for Arsenal including the 2005-06 Champions League final, has found a new home far from his adopted London reside---
--what's that? He signed for Watford? Oh. So...he's training at the same ground that he has for years? Oh. So...he'll still see his former Arsenal teammates every day, even though he's playing for Elton John's favorite club? Oh. So...it's like he never left? Well, he did leave, but it's like he never...can we still be friends, or is that weird? I mean, I never was the guy's biggest fan, and although he put together a great string of matches in 2007-08, by the time he was dancing around against West Brom three years later, we all wanted Jens Lehmann to come back, and he did, and...but we always sort of had a soft spot for the World War II-history-loving Navarran galoot with the silly blond dye job...
...I'll miss you, Manuel. Remember when you made like 793 saves against Barcelona in the 2009-10 Champions League quarterfinal, and then Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty on a broken leg? That was neat. Remember when you were doing so well that people wanted you to play for England? That was neat, too.
But mostly, Manuel, I'll remember the time that you looked around, puzzled, as Robert Pires came off in Paris. That was the best, and the start of something fun, if not exactly "special". Being a goalkeeper is a pretty thankless task, and you handled the abuse with grace and bravery, and for that, I salute you. Best of luck with The Hornets, and tell Elton that I said "Street Kids" was the best song he ever did.
Share your favorite Almunia memories in the comments below!
[EDIT: It should be noted that Almunia was already off of the club's books; this was more of a reminiscence piece. There is still work to be done freeing up wages and roster spots...]