Arsenal have confirmed that Bernd Leno has joined Fulham in a deal reportedly worth up to £8 million.
The 30-year-old leaves Arsenal after four years having made 125 appearances for the Gunners.
Recruited from Bayer Leverkusen to provide competition to Petr Cech, the Germany international was the second signing of the Unai Emery era having been scouted by Sven Mislintat.
While Leno started the 2018/19 season on the bench, he soon established himself as the club’s first choice keeper after making his debut off the bench in a 2-0 win over Watford.
Leno retained that status for most of the 2019/20 season until knee ligament damage ruled him out of the tail-end of the Covid-interrupted campaign.
He watched from the stands as replacement Emi Martinez helped the Gunners to FA Cup glory against Chelsea; the second final in a row he missed against the Blues after sitting out the Europa League defeat the season before.
Despite Martinez’s heroics in goal, Arteta opted to sell the Argentine meaning Leno was restored between the sticks for the 2020/21 season. He ended up playing a lot of football – over 4,400 minutes – but there was little talk of the player being offered a new deal.
Last summer’s acquisition of Aaron Ramsdale hinted that the club were moving in a new direction and sure enough, within four Premier League games, the ex-Sheffield United was given a chance that he seized.
Leno never complained about his lot, always kept his head down and continued to be a reliable backup. His last appearance came in March when he kept a clean sheet against Aston Villa.
A move to newly-promoted Fulham should give him the first team football he craves and a chance to win back his place in Germany’s squad ahead of the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
We wish Bernd all the best.