Manuel Almunia will leave Arsenal this summer after eight seasons at the club. His contract expires in June and apart from four on-loan appearances for West Ham, the former number 1 hasn’t played at all this campaign.
Almunia took over as Arsenal number 1 after some uncharacteristic early-season mistakes from Jens Lehmann, and despite showing some good shot stopping (and a very healthy penalty saving record) was never able to produce consistently enough to maintain his position.
He was ousted by Lukasz Fabiasnki who in turn found himself on the bench as Wojciech Szczesny emerged. The Spaniard is looking forward to finding a new club, ideally in England, and has spoken highly of his relationship with Arsene Wenger.
“I’m looking for a nice move next season,” he told Sky Sports News. “I want to start a new episode of my life.”
“It’s a very respectful relationship and now I’m free, I can do what I like and he’s happy with my work at Arsenal for ideas.”
Although a move back to Spain may well be on his mind, Almunia has half an eye on staying in London (probably the same half an eye he had on that Ronaldo free kick in the Champions League semi-final).
“I have got lazy to move too far,” he said, “because life here in London is fantastic and I hope I can have a club to go to next season so I can stay.”
To be fair to Almunia, he’s never complained [insert smart comment from readers here along the lines of: why would he?’]. Ultimately, it’s not his fault that he was never really good enough to be number 1 at Arsenal, and he hardly picked himself over 175 times.
However, with Lukasz Fabianki also eager to depart this summer once the European Championships are over, and Vito Mannone (currently on loan at Hull) unwillinging to sit on the bench, it means Arsene Wenger will have to augment his goalkeeping department in the close season.