Bernd Leno says he respects Petr Cech enormously, and that the pair get on very well together, but if asked to play in Wednesday night’s Europa League final he wouldn’t turn down the chance due to sentimentality.
The veteran keeper is set to play the final game of an illustrious career against his former club in Baku tomorrow night, and it’s widely expected he’ll start. However, the German wouldn’t let that get in the way of his chance to play in a final if asked by boss Unai Emery.
Speaking to kicker magazine, he said, “In the Premier League it’s clear that I’m the number one. In the Europa League, Petr Cech has almost always played.
“That’s normal here in England and by some clubs it’s the same in the cup. I prepare the same way as normal, as if I’m going to play. But you also need to be prepared for the coach to say: “No, it’s the last game in (Cech’s) career.”
“You have to accept that. But it still isn’t clear who will play. Either way, I just hope we win, no matter who is in goal.”
As for his relationship with the 37 year old, he continued, “I have great respect for Petr Cech and we get along really well. He deserves any and all recognition.
“Still, I’m a professional sportsman, I always want to play, especially in a final. It would be the completely wrong time to have a guilty conscience.
“It’s a huge game for Arsenal, I absolutely wouldn’t say: ‘I’d rather not play.’ I’m pumped to play, that’s my mindset.”
It’s hard to argue with that, and we’ll wait and see what Emery does tomorrow evening.
We’ll have a full transcript of Leno’s interview later this morning.