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Stats experts WhoScored have assessed the credentials of reported Arsenal transfer target Jan Oblak. Find out why the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper could be the perfect successor to Petr Cech…
Atleti have made a habit of developing world class goalkeepers in recent years. David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois honed their talent at the Calderon before moving on, with Manchester United snapping up the former and Chelsea recalling the latter after a successful three-year loan spell in the Spanish capital. When Courtois returned to London, there was concern as to how Atletico would replace the Belgian, before signing relative unknown Jan Oblak for £12.6m from Benfica.
Fast-forward to the present day and Oblak is widely considered one of the best goalkeepers on the continent and, at 23 years of age, has plenty of time on his side to improve further. The youngster has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘shot-stopping’ – and for good reason. Of the goalkeepers to make 20 or more appearances, only Kevin Trapp (82.8%) has a better save success rate than Oblak (78.4%) in Europe’s top five leagues since the start of last season.
His performances have inevitably attracted the interest of a number of Europe’s top teams, and notably Arsenal are supposedly keeping tabs.
The Gunners are able to call on the sturdy Petr Cech between the sticks and since moving to the Emirates last summer, he’s done little wrong. His save success rate (77.7%) is only marginally inferior to that of Oblak, while the former Chelsea man has kept more clean sheets (20) than any other Premier League goalkeeper in that time. Over the same period, Oblak has 30 clean sheets to his name, further heightening his reputation.
A new goalkeeper, of course, is far from a priority for the Gunners. That being said, at 34 years of age Cech is very much in the twilight of his career. He’s by no means old for a goalkeeper, but the former Czech Republic shot-stopper is not getting any younger. For a team of Arsenal’s stature, a world class replacement to Cech is crucial.
The stumbling block appears to be Oblak’s release clause, which is rumoured to be a staggering £85m. But the influx of TV money in the Premier League means top-flight teams now have greater finances to invest back into the squad, which Arsenal could maximise to bring in a new long-term goalkeeper. The decision to spend such a vast sum of money on Oblak would be questioned, but as far as attainable, world class ‘keepers go, the Gunners might be foolish not to pursue their rumoured interest in the Slovenia international.
A pass success rate of 59.1% is superior to Cech’s 53.8% and with Arsenal favouring a possession-based approach at this point in time, Oblak would certainly aid the club’s frequent attempts to build from the back. For a side striving to return to the summit of Premier League football, Oblak could be the ideal goalkeeper required in the Gunners’ attempts to re-establish themselves as England’s best team.
Arsenal will have to fork out to secure his services – of that there is no doubt. Atletico would be loath to losing one of their star men, particularly with the club on the verge of moving to their new stadium. But with the Gunners knowing full well they’ll need a new goalkeeper, perhaps sooner rather than later, Oblak would be a fine acquisition for the north London side.