Arsenal are close to a deal to sign Colombia national team goalkeeper David Ospina from French club Nice. The club president of the Nice team, Jean-Pierre Rivère, revealed, “There is still no agreement, but we are not far.” But if and when a deal is reached, what can we expect from Ospina?
When 17-year-old Ospina put on his gloves for the first time in a top flight match, there were nerves. Yet the casual fan or pundit would have never noticed. In front of him was the most daunting task of his career, debuting in a packed house for one of the biggest clubs in Colombian football with Atlético Nacional, to start out a season.
For the Medellín native, he got to see his club win league titles from the bench but he knew that the chance was there to do great things and the enormous responsibility of being in goal where players like Miguel Calero and René Higuita had soared to tremendous heights at the continental level in years past was relished more than feared.
Ospina would help Nacional in 2007 become the first team to win the league title in back-to-back semesters since the inception of that format back in 2002. His saves were spectacular as were his clashes in the area with any carbon-based object lurking in his box. Overall, the young goalkeeper showed why he was the goalkeeper of the future as the previous generation, with names like Oscar Córdoba, Faryd Mondragón and Agustín Julio, were near the end of their soccer careers.
Just a few months after his success with Nacional, he was called up for the Colombian national team. By the time 2010 rolled around, he established himself as the undisputed number one for Colombia. By that time the eyes of various teams from Italy, Spain and England were inquiring about his services after two excellent seasons at Ligue 1 side Nice.
The 2011 Copa América was where he was supposed to emerge and become one of the best players at his position. Unfortunately an untimely challenge by former Wigan and U-20 teammate Hugo Rodallega ended his participation in the tournament before it even began. Yet that did not deter him from his eventual goal.
His potential contributions to Arsenal
I’ve seen and heard Arsenal fans cringe the past few seasons ever since Jens Lehmann departed off into the sunset from his goalkeeping position.
The list of keepers that have come like Wojciech Szczęsny, Lucasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone and Manuel Almunia did not inspire a great deal of confidence in Gunners fans. As a matter of fact, Alex Manninger, Stuart Taylor and Vince Bartram didn’t inspire the confidence at Highbury in the post-David Seaman era either before Lehmann asserted himself when he returned in 2011.
Some of these goalkeepers have shown flashes of quality, but their erratic play at times has seen that position on the squad become a revolving door of sorts. That is until Szczęsny saw Fabianski leave for Swansea City and Italian goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano did not see action at all during his short time as a Gunner.