New Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno has revealed that chats with new Gunners boss Unai Emery were key in helping convince him to make the move from Bayer Leverkusen, where he spent seven years as number one and made over 300 appearances.
The German described it as a ‘new chapter’ for the club as he looks forward to next season.
“I spoke to [Emery]and he said to me that he thinks that I’m a good goalkeeper and he wanted me to come to Arsenal,” Leno told Arsenal.com in his first interview as a Gunners player.
“For me it was clear that the club and the coach wanted to sign me, so I’m happy that everyone in this club said that I’m a good goalkeeper and wanted to sign me.”
Leno also named his three favourite Arsenal players he remembers while growing up in Germany, also recalling the old home ground of Highbury, but choosing one name that many would think rather bizarre at first glance.
“I remember many things like Thierry Henry and Jens Lehmann, Highbury and Alexander Hleb too,” the 26-year-old commented.
Henry, a veritable Arsenal legend, and Lehmann, a goalkeeper who was German number one when Leno was a teenager, are obvious and understandable choices. Hleb is a little more off the wall given that he was only in London for three years before joining Barcelona and fading away.
But Leno and Hleb share common ground, with the Belarusian midfielder a star at Stuttgart in the early 2000s when Leno joined the club as an 11-year-old youth player. Hleb later then returned to the Stuttgart on loan in 2009/10 when Leno was playing for Stuttgart II.
“I remember [Hleb] at Stuttgart and then he played for Arsenal. For me, it’s the same story now,” Leno recalled as he follows the same path as one of his childhood heroes.
Unfortunatley for Leno, Lehmann, who was on the Gunners’ coaching staff, left the club on the same day as his arrival was announced, making his disappointment over his exit clear.