Jens Lehmann, 41, is said to be considering extending to his Gunners return for one more season.
The former German international came out of retirement in March to answer Arsène Wenger’s S.O.S call for a goalkeeper. With Wojciech Szczęsny and Łukasz Fabiański both injured, it left only the out of favour Manuel Almunia available to choose from.
Should Lehmann be still at The Emirates next season, will it be a good or bad thing for Arsenal?
Well, there seems to be a divided opinion amongst the Arsenal faithful. Nobody can knock what the big German did for the club in his first stint at the club; he was given the unenviable task of replacing the departed club legend, David Seaman.
Lehmann certainly thrived off the pressure on his shoulders. In his debut season he was a member of the Gunners’ ‘invincible’ side that remained unbeaten throughout the 2003-04 season, earning the German the Premiership Golden Glove award, as well as his Premiership title medal.
Lehmann went on to rack up just under 200 appearances for the Gunners, adding the FA Cup in 2005 to his repertoire when he famously saved from Paul Scholes’ spot kick before Patrick Vieira struck the winning penalty [in the shoot-out victory for Arsenal]. He was also part of the side that had beat United in the Community Shield at the start of that season.
The towering shot-stopper had established himself as a fans’ favourite, and the first name on Wenger’s team sheet. However, one sour point in his career will leave a bitter taste in the German’s mouth, and that was his red card in the 2005 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona. In a rush of blood he rushed out of his area in the 18th minute to haul down Barca striker Samuel Eto’o. With it went Lehmann’s hopes of winning the European Cup as the team went on to lose 2-1 after extra time.
Fast forward three years since leaving the club in 2008, Lehmann returned in March, making one appearance in the 3-1 away win over recently relegated Blackpool. Szczęsny then returned from injury, leaving the 41 year old on the bench for the rest of the season.
If Lehmann does stay on for another season, some supporters will argue that his experience could prove invaluable to the other Arsenal keepers. The alterntive view is that he is a part of the club‘s successful past, and is not part of the present club’s future.
Arsène Wenger will be aware of the pressure on Szczęsny’s shoulders; 60,000 fans at the Emirates watching his every move, every save, every mistake that he makes. This suggests why Wenger is looking at persuading Lehmann to stay on for one more year, as he could help transform the Pole’s promising talent, into what might turn into a world class goalkeeper for the Gunners.
Lehmann himself will know that he is not going to be first choice for Arsenal, and after describing his comeback as “more of a hobby,” it is clear that his evergreen passion for the Gunners could see his presence stick around that extra year in some capacity; either playing or as a coach.
Fans will be skeptical over Lehmann’s future as the suffering rolls on after another frustrating season of ‘beautiful football’ but no trophies to show for it. However, if Lehmann contributes to Arsenal winning some silverware in the future, as a player or coach, then the Arsenal faithful could point to Jens Lehmann as a true club legend.