Matt Macey and Deyan Iliev have both been at Arsenal for a considerable amount of time, but this summer could see significant decisions made regarding the futures of both goalkeepers.
While it is true that in most cases goalkeepers break into senior football much later than outfielders and can go on to have lengthier careers, the fact that Macey and Iliev will both turn 25 next season means that they surely can’t afford to spend the campaign in the U23s.
Iliev, for instance, may have made the bench for Macedonia at senior level, but in club football he has yet to make a single first-team appearance and hasn’t even been out on loan.
Granted, Iliev was previously out for two years due to injury, but he is surely at the stage now where he needs to experience first-team football in some capacity.
This season Iliev has been Arsenal’s first-choice shot-stopper at U23 level, and, while he has made some excellent saves at times, many of his overall performances have been unconvincing, with his erratic kicking often putting his team in danger.
Macey, meanwhile, has spent the campaign on loan at Plymouth Argyle and recently regained his place in the starting lineup for the League One side having previously been dropped.
The overall assessment of Macey’s performances from Plymouth supporters has largely been negative, and it certainly seems as if he isn’t of the required quality to make the breakthrough at Arsenal, despite impressing during his two senior appearances last season.
With Petr Cech retiring, there could well be a vacancy for the third-choice goalkeeper in the Arsenal first-team this summer.
Out of Macey and Iliev, the latter, who has trained frequently with the first-team, seems the most likely to step up.
However, perhaps the better option would be to let Macey and Iliev go, bring in a veteran goalkeeper as third choice behind Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez, and promote the hugely talented Arthur Okonkwo to the position of the club’s main goalkeeper at U23 level.