Reina tops Arsenal shortlist as Wenger targets new keeper in January
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Arsenal have placed Pepe Reina at the top of their wishlist as they step up plans to sign a new goalkeeper in January, Goal.com has learned.
Arsene Wenger wants to sign a proven Premier League stopper to challenge established No.1 Wojciech Szczesny.
Swansea City’s Michel Vorm and Stoke City’s Thomas Sorensen are the other two names on the three-man shortlist compiled by Arsenal’s scouting team.
Goal.com understands that Wenger and his staff have identified the goalkeeper, attacking midfield and centre-forward positions as the key areas to strengthen in the forthcoming window.
The Arsenal boss is ready to bid for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha while his top striker target is Adrian Lopez of Atletico Madrid, as revealed by Goal.com last month. Wenger is also weighing up the possibility of bringing Thierry Henry back to the club for a third spell in January, on loan from New York Red Bulls.
Arsenal’s search for a keeper will centre closer to home as they hunt for a shot-stopper who can replace – or compete with – Szczesny.
The Pole, who recently returned to the team after two months out with an ankle injury, established himself as Arsenal’s No.1 after making an assured step up from the youth team in the second half of the 2010-11 season.
But the 22-year-old has suffered form and fitness problems in 2012 and his patchy distribution skills are a concern for Wenger, who puts so much store in an intricate passing game that starts from the back.
The Arsenal boss is a long-time admirer of Liverpool keeper Reina, who he tried to sign from Anfield in the summer of 2010.
Although the Spaniard, 30, is contracted to Liverpool until 2016, he has made a series of costly errors this season and temporarily lost his starting place after a spell out injured.
And Arsenal believe Reina has the distribution skills that Szczesny lacks, and is the type of strong character who could be a positive influence in the dressing room.
Swansea’s Vorm, who has been out injured since the end of October, is also a major contender in Arsenal’s search for a new keeper. The Dutchman, 29, has been a consistently impressive performer since making the move to the Premier League at the start of last season.
The third keeper on Arsenal’s shortlist is Stoke’s 36-year-old stopper Sorensen, who is the understudy to Asmir Begovic at the Britannia Stadium.
Unlike the other two contenders, Sorensen would be likely to provide experienced back-up to Szczesny rather than replace him in the team.
Szczesny’s current understudy Lukasz Fabianksi is out injured until the new year and is out of contract at the end of the season, when he is likely to leave the Emirates.
Vito Mannone has played the most games in the Arsenal goal this season but made a string of blunders and has failed to convince the club that he is the answer to their goalkeeping quandary.