Petr Cech is a legend of English football.
The Czech goalkeeper has won 16 trophies during his time in England, with both Chelsea and Arsenal, whilst also holding the record for the most clean sheets in Premier League history.
However, he turns 35 next month and while he is still a consistent performer between the sticks for The Gunners, it is clear for all to see that he is not the ‘keeper he once was.
The time to find Cech’s replacement is approaching and if reports are to be believed, it could well be this summer.
Benfica’s Ederson is being lined up as Arsenal’s new number one, and the Brazilian has already managed to successfully replace a modern goalkeeping legend.
Starting his youth career at boyhood club and Brazilian giants Sao Paulo, he never made an appearance for their first-team, moving to second division side Riberao in 2011.
One season and 29 appearance later, Rio Ave of Portugal came calling. Ederson spent three seasons with the Rio Grande, impressing on numerous occasions.
His performances caught the attention of Portuguese giants Benfica, who paid €500,000 for his services in July 2015. The Brazilian signed a five-year contract at the Estadio da Luz, which included a release clause of €45 million.
In his first season, he played 22 games across all competitions. Most of his appearances came in the second half of the season, as he began to take the number one spot held by former Inter Milan stopper and UEFA Champions League winner Julio Cesar.
Ederson continued his momentum into this campaign, solidifying his position as first-choice goalkeeper, making 35 appearances so far. He has conceded 24 goals and kept 22 clean sheets in those games, very impressive numbers for a 23-year-old.
23 of those appearances have come in the Liga Nos, Portugal’s top flight. In the league, he has made 46 saves, conceding just 10 times.
The Brazilian makes 4.60 saves per goal, an impressive statistic, made even better when compared to some of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer makes 3.46 saves per goal, while Manchester United’s David de Gea and Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois make 2.04. Even legendary Juventus stopper Gianluigi Buffon makes less, with 2.78.
A number of Premier League clubs looked to replace number one ‘keeper’s last summer. But, many of these new signings have failed because they prefer to punch rather than catch, most notably Claudio Bravo and Lloris Karius at Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively.
However, this does not appear to be an issue for Ederson, as he has only punched five times in Liga Nos this season, completing 55 catches.
His sharp reflexes make him a great shot stopper, while his speed off the line allows him to avert difficult situations.
Even at 23 years of age, he commands his box like a seasoned veteran and isn’t afraid to come and collect balls into the box.
It’s often said that ‘keepers get better with age. If that is the case with Ederson, he could well be one of the best in the world in five or so years’ time.
However, there could be an issue.
Although transfermarkt value him at just over £10 million, a steal for a goalkeeper of his quality, the new contract he signed in late January of this year includes a €60 million. The fee could be negotiated but, it appears that Arsenal will have to fork out if they want Ederson.
There are also unconfirmed reports that Manchester City have a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to sign the Brazilian. Whether this is true or not is yet to be seen but, The Gunners will need to move quickly and decisively if they are to get the man they want.
Personally, I think Ederson could be a good number one, both now and in the future for Arsenal. It will be a challenge to get him but, it’s a challenge we should embrace.