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Leno to £250k man head Arsenal’s past 11 Germans amid £21m interest

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Arsenal are interested in signing Ilkay Gundogan from Manchester City during the summer transfer window, which would make the midfielder only the Gunners’ 12th German player.

Gundogan has spent the past six years at the Etihad Stadium after moving to England from Borussia Dortmund for £21m. Pep Guardiola made the 31-year-old his very first signing for the Citizens, after replacing Manuel Pellegrini following three seasons with Bayern Munich.

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Together, Guardiola and Gundogan have helped the Sky Blues to win three Premier League titles, four EFL Cups and an FA Cup. The 56-cap Germany technician also won the Bundesliga title for BVB under Jurgen Klopp in 2011/12, in a German domestic double with a DFB-Pokal.

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Arsenal are interested in signing Ilkay Gundogan from Manchester City

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta worked with Gundogan during his time as Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City, and he is now interested in reuniting in north London. That’s according to Fabrizio Romano, who reports there is a serious chance he leaves the Citizens this summer.

Gundogan enters the last year of his £140k-a-week contract in June and has not yet had any discussions over new terms. Instead, talks between the Sky Blues and the midfielder’s agent have focused on a potential separation, with Arsenal, Barcelona and Bundesliga clubs keen.

But despite Romano’s claims, The Telegraph report Guardiola expects Gundogan will stay at the Etihad. Suggestions the German could leave also shocked the City boss, as no one within the Manchester City hierarchy wants to let the Gelsenkirchen-born star depart this summer.

Should Arteta step up Arsenal’s interest and convince Gundogan to leave Guardiola’s ranks, the Manchester City star would become only the Gunners’ 12th German player yet. So, what other Germans have played in north London over the years, including Bernd Leno currently?

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Bernd Leno deal was last Arsenal transfer for a German amid Gundogan interest

Arteta is yet to sign a German since becoming Arsenal manager in 2019, amid his interest in poaching Gundogan from Manchester City this summer. Leno was the last German national to join the Gunners, with Unai Emery agreeing a £22m deal with Bayer Leverkusen in 2018.

Leno became the first-choice shot-stopper at the Emirates in his debut season after ousting Petr Cech for the position. But the 30-year-old lost the role to Aaron Ramsdale three games into the current campaign following Arteta paying Sheffield United £24m, rising up to £30m.

Ramsdale’s form between the sticks has since kept Leno to a reserve role and may mark the end of his Gunners career. The nine-cap international is out of contract next year, so 90min report Arteta will let Leno leave this summer having already signed USMNT ace Matt Turner.

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Shkodran Mustafi enjoyed five years in north London after leaving Valencia

Shkodran Mustafi enjoyed five years in north London after leaving Valencia for the Gunners in August 2016 for £35m. Arsene Wenger had targeted the centre-back throughout the off-season that summer, believing he was a ‘great player’ for the now as well as for the future.

Yet Mustafi proved error-prone and defensively suspect, before falling out of favour upon Arteta replacing Emery. The Spaniard initially kept the 30-year-old as a first-choice name, but would only field Mustafi nine times in 2020/21 before then terminating his contract.

Mustafi amassed 151 appearances for Arsenal during his time at the Emirates, more than with any other club to date. He joined Schalke upon leaving north London, but only spent five months at the Gelsenkirchen outfit. Levante later signed the free agent in September.

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Serge Gnabry is one that got away for Arsenal after early axe in 2016

Serge Gnabry is now one that got away for Arsenal after, in hindsight, being axed too soon when sold in 2016. Wenger allowed the winger to join Werder Bremen for just £4.5m after failing to impress during a difficult loan spell at West Brom under the defensive Tony Pulis.

Arsenal had signed Gnabry in his youth in 2011, but he only broke through for 18 first-team appearances in the capital. Yet one year at Werder Bremen was enough to convince Bayern Munich to sign him for €8m (£7m), where has now won the Bundesliga on four occasions.

Der FCB also won the Champions League in 2019/20 with Gnabry, but risk losing him soon. The 26-year-old is out of contract in 2023, and Goal report Klopp has identified the forward as a potential replacement for Mohamed Salah if the Egyptian leaves Liverpool this summer.

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Arsenal kept paying Mesut Ozil 90% of wages to join Fenerbache for free

There was a seismic shift at Arsenal in 2013 when Wenger broke the Gunners’ club-record spend to sign Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for £42.5m. The German, aged 24 at the time, shattered the north Londoners’ previous record of £15m paid to Zenit for Andriy Arshavin.

Ozil was a gifted individual blessed with a superb touch and eye for a pass. He dazzled the Emirates on numerous occasions, and scored an instant classic away to Ludogorets in the Champions League in November 2016 after bamboozling two defenders and the keeper.

Yet Ozil’s Arsenal career ended bitterly in January 2021, following 254 appearances with the club, when the Gunners agreed to keep paying 90% of the German’s £350k-a-week wage for the rest of that season to see that he joined Fenerbahce in a free transfer, per The Athletic.

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Lukas Podolski last Arsenal German example Ilkay Gundogan could replicate amid interest

Lukas Podolski is the last example of Arsenal signing a German player who remained a fan’s favourite in north London until and after their departure, whom Gundogan could potentially now strive to replicate at the Emirates amid Arteta’s interest in the Manchester City star.

Wenger agreed an £11m deal with Koln in March 2012 to sign Podolski for the subsequent summer. The winger would spend only three years at the Emirates before Galatasaray paid just £2m for his services. Yet the 130-cap star made a big impact across his 82 appearances.

One of Podolski’s greatest contributions for Arsenal came in starting the 2014 FA Cup final against Hull City. The Wembley affair saw Wenger’s men come from two-down to win 3-2 and lift a major trophy for the first time in 3,283 days. He also won the World Cup that year.

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Thomas Eisfeld failed to make the grade at Arsenal in his youth

Arsenal raided Borussia Dortmund’s U19s to sign Thomas Eisfeld in January 2012 for £400k to join their academy. But after a productive junior career in north London, the midfielder did not make the grade in the senior fold with just two appearances, both in the EFL Cup.

Wenger awarded Eisfeld his senior Arsenal debut in the Gunners’ infamous 7-5 win away to Reading in October 2012. He entered the action for Gnabry on 62 minutes with the Royals 4-1 ahead. While his second outing came at West Brom a year later with his only starting role.

Arsenal would sell Eisfeld to Fulham in July 2014, while the Cottagers loaned him to Bochum the next February. The midfielder made a permanent move to the Vonovia Ruhrstadion side that August and stayed there until being released in 2021 and joining RW Essen this January.

Arsenal’s German defender Per Mertesacker holds the trophy as he celebrates on the pitch after their win over Chelsea in the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley stadium in London on May 27, 2017. Aaron Ramsey scored a 79th-minute header to earn Arsenal a stunning 2-1 win over Double-chasing Chelsea on Saturday and deliver embattled manager Arsene Wenger a record seventh FA Cup. / AFP PHOTO / Ian KINGTON / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Per Mertesacker now academy manager at Arsenal after playing career

Wenger struck a deadline day deal to sign Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen in August 2011 for £8m. The centre-half would go on to enjoy a successful seven years at the Emirates Stadium as a player, before hanging up his boots and gaining a behind-the-scenes position.

The 104-cap German international retired following 221 games for the Gunners – marginally more than with any other club during his career, with 214 for Werder Bremen. Arsenal then hired Mertesacker as the club’s academy manager in July 2018, and he remains in the role.  

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Arsenal signed future legend Jens Lehmann to replace club icon David Seaman

Arsenal hit the transfer market in the summer of 2003 seeking a new goalkeeper to replace club icon David Seaman. Jens Lehmann was the man Wenger selected to fill the role, joining from Borussia Dortmund, and would leave the Gunners in 2008 to join Stuttgart as a legend.

Lehmann made 200 appearances for the north London natives – including his short return in 2011. The 61-cap star also opened all 38 Premier League games as Arsenal went unbeaten in 2003/04. The Invincibles star also earned that season’s Golden Glove after 15 clean sheets.

The German’s Arsenal heroics continued in 2005 by denying Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes in the FA Cup final penalty shoot-out win. But it would prove to be his last title with the Gunners, and was also sent off in the club’s only Champions League final in 2006.

1 Nov 2000: Moritz Volz of Arsenal beats Fabian Wilnis of Ipswich Town during the Worthington Cup 3rd round match played at Highbury, in London. Ipswich Town won the match 2-1. \ Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt /Allsport

Moritz Volz unable to forge first-team career at Arsenal after youth arrival

Moritz Volz was unable to forge a first-team career at Arsenal after joining the Gunners in his youth. The right-back moved to England from Schalke’s U17s in 1999, yet departed for Fulham in 2004 having only managed two senior appearances between two loan transfers.

He would enjoy success at Craven Cottage with a career-high 144 appearances across all competitions. Volz would eventually leave Fulham in 2009 as a free agent before returning to Germany with St Pauli, proceeding three years at 1860 Munich up to retiring in 2015.

9th Jan 2000: Stefan Malz of Arsenal and Frank Sinclair of Leicester in action in the FA Cup 4th Round Match played at Highbury in London. The match ended 0-0 \ Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt /Allsport

Stefan Malz record far from what Ilkay Gundogan will want amid Arsenal interest

Stefan Malz holds a record with Arsenal that Gundogan will want to avoid repeating, amid Arteta’s interest in his transfer from Manchester City. The defender joined the Gunners in 1999 from 1860 Munich yet left within two years, having only managed 14 appearances.

Arsenal would prove to be the left-backs only club outside of Germany following spells at Darmstadt and Mannheim before 1860 Munich. He would return to his home nation with Kaiserslautern in 2001, before joining Arminia Ludwigshafen and Ludwigshafen Oggersheim.

11 Nov 1998: Neil Clement of Chelsea beats Alberto Mendez of Arsenal during the Worthington Cup fourth round match at Highbury in London. Chelsea won 5-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Gary M Prior/Allsport

Alberto Mendez became Arsenal’s first German player with 1997 transfer

Alberto Mendez became Arsenal’s first ever German player in 1997 after transferring to the Gunners from Feucht. Wenger highlighted his ability to pluck players from unknown reaches with the midfielder’s £250k move from the German fifth-division after just one scouting trip.

Mendez would score on his Arsenal debut yet only managed one further goal across another 10 appearances. The midfielder’s north London career would mostly feature a series of loan moves before joining Racing Ferrol in 2002. But his journeyman status did not end there.

Racing Ferrol marked Mendez’s fifth club, before spells with Terrassa, returning to Feucht, joining SpVgg Bayreuth, Darmstadt, Sandhausen, SpVgg Weiden and Amberg before calling time on his career in 2012. His best spell came with Weiden for 11 goals across 41 games.

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