FOOTBALL: Former Goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s Comments Surprised Mikel Arteta

The now-Fulham shot-stopper fell down the pecking order behind Aaron Ramsdale in the 2021-22 season and only made one Premier League appearance after the end of August.



With his contract due to expire in 2023, Arsenal accepted a cut-price fee from Marco Silva’s side for the sale of Leno, who was relegated to third choice behind Matt Turner this summer and made an expected departure four years after arriving from Bayer Leverkusen.


Arsenal only received an upfront payment of £3m for the Germany international, which could rise to £8m if all add-ons are hit, and he recently claimed that “politics” played a part in his departure.


Former Goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s Comments Surprised Mikel Arteta. “When I realised that it wasn’t about performance or quality, I knew that I had to go,” Leno told Sport BILD. “In preparation, I saw that it is not about performance, but only about politics. It was clear to me: I had to get out of here.”


“The most important thing for me is to find my rhythm again. Especially after I wasn’t actually able to train properly at Arsenal and had no preparation. It’s up to me to get the focus back on the national team.”


Arteta was questioned on Leno’s comments during Wednesday’s press conference ahead of the Gunners’ Europa League Group A opener with FC Zurich, and the Arsenal boss admitted his shock at hearing his former goalkeeper’s allegations.


“I’m really surprised and I don’t know if he’s talking about the politics when he was starting every match or when he wasn’t playing. Really surprised about it,” quotes Arteta as saying.


Turner will hope to be handed his debut for the club when they take on the Swiss Super League champions on Thursday, but the Gunners will have to make do without Emile Smith Rowe.


The 22-year-old has been primarily used off the bench so far this season but was pictured leaving the Old Trafford pitch with an injury after his brief substitute cameo in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Manchester United.


Offering an update on Smith Rowe’s fitness, Arteta revealed that the England international had suffered a recurrence of discomfort in an unspecified area – believed to be his previous groin issue.


“He felt some discomfort again in an area that he’s been dealing with now for a few weeks. He wasn’t comfortable after the game and he hasn’t trained in the last few days so he’s out of the squad,” Arteta added.


As well as Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are out of contention for Arsenal, who have also lost Cedric Soares to a knock ahead of their continental opener.


Arteta is now approaching his third anniversary as Arsenal manager, but across the English capital, Chelsea sacked Thomas Tuchel after less than two years in charge on Wednesday morning.


“It was right before training when we got the news. It is always sad for any colleague in this profession to get fired. Unfortunately, we know how this works. Wish him the best of luck,” Arteta responded when asked about his counterpart’s exit.


“It makes me realise that we have a profession that, in a big percent this is going to happen. We have to prepare for it and we have to enjoy the journey and we have to enjoy every day because you never know what’s coming.”


Arsenal will also face PSV Eindhoven and Bodo/Glimt in Europa League Group A and are aiming to end a 29-year streak without a piece of European silverware since winning the 1994 Cup Winners Cup.



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