It appears that perpetual back-up Arsenal shot stopper David Ospina, currently on a season-long loan with Serie A side Napoli, will be leaving the club permanently, as reported by La Repubblica.
Napoli have decided they will sign goalkeeper David Ospina on a permanent deal next summer, even if he doesn’t meet the 30 appearance criteria to make the loan deal permanent. [La Repubblica] #afc pic.twitter.com/Ki4Czg9KCH— afcstuff (@afcstuff) November 18, 2018
Despite the fact that this is still very much in the rumor phase, there’s little reason to doubt the validity of the report. After Arsenal signed German goal keeper Bernd Leno from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in the summer, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Ospina.
The Colombian international, having signed with Arsenal in 2014, struggled to assert himself as Arsenal’s first choice keeper during his stay at the Emirates, unable to supplant both Wojciech Szczęsny and Petr Cech in between the sticks. Typically relegated to cup duty, Ospina’s mercurial performances kept him from threatening for the starting position, as his questionable decision making and weakness in the air kept him in the back-up role. Although he had his fair share of excellent performances, his penchant for mind-boggling mistakes did little to foster confidence in both the management and the fanbase.
This move is good for all parties involved for several reasons. First and foremost, Ospina has been reliable for The Blues, featuring in seven of Napoli’s 12 matches. Napoli are currently 2nd on the table (28 points) behind the seemingly-unstoppable juggernaut that is Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus (34 points), which means that the top two teams in the Italian top flight both feature former Arsenal players in goal. Overall, Ospina has been a good fit for the Italian side.
A permanent move also helps Arsenal, as the goal keeping picture, which has become clearer in recent weeks, gains a little more clarity. The acquisition of Bernd Leno has begun to bear fruit as he has established himself as Arsenal’s starter in the wake of Petr Cech’s hamstring injury last month. Despite a string of draws in league play, Leno has had some commanding performances in recent weeks and has helped Unai Emery establish his preferred tactical philosophy of playing out of the back. The odds of Ospina pushing Leno out of the starting spot would be slim.
This also enables Arsenal to begin grooming third choice keeper Emiliano Martinez to take on more match duties. With Cech in the twilight of his career and with the club having just bought a new keeper, Arsenal will benefit from investing in their in-house talent instead of spending more money on a player that would further push Martinez down the pecking order.
At the end of the day, should the loan indeed become permanent, we can all wish David Ospina well. Although he never did become a bonafide starter for the Gunners, he also represented the club with dignity and class. Happy trails, David.