Arsenal goalkeeper Mat Ryan has bracketed himself and Bernd Leno among “world-class” players in his position amid growing competition between the two shot-stoppers.
Ryan, 29, completed a winter switch to the Emirates on loan from Brighton, whom he had fallen down the pecking order with to Robert Sanchez.
The Australian was expected to once again play second fiddle to Arsenal’s usual No. 1 Leno, but the occasional clanger from the German has caused Mikel Arteta to rotate between the sticks, gifting Ryan a chance to showcase his worth.
The Brighton loanee started at the weekend in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Newcastle, keeping his first clean sheet in the process, and leading to speculation around Leno’s future.
Despite taking on a peripheral role at the weekend, Ryan has come out in defence of the under fire gloveman, labelling Leno a “world class” ‘keeper, but going on to place himself in that same category.
Ryan told Optus Sport: “Obviously there was a bit of disappointment around how things ended up there at Brighton.
“Then this move came about and I could understand why people could have drawn the conclusion that ‘yeah, he’s coming here as a No.2 and wants to take the foot off the pedal, enjoy training and not push so hard’.
“Anyone that really knows me knows that’s not my style at all. My motivation is to get out on the pitch and perform.
“That’s the reason I sacrificed every other aspect of my life, moving away from family and friends to be across here and to be out there on the pitch and represent the club that I’m playing for.
“Obviously I knew that Arsenal have a great goalkeeper in Bernd, what he’s done in his career is testament to the world-class goalkeeper he is.
“But at the same time, I have self-belief that I’m also a world-class goalkeeper.”
Leno: I’m open to everything
There has been a growing discussion about Leno’s future in north London this season, with the former Bayer Leverkusen player recently admitting he would be “open to everything” when discussing his current contract with Arsenal, which expires in two years.
Speaking last month, Leno said: “Not yet and at the moment it’s not the time to speak about the future.
“I know that I still have two years left on my contract and I’m also 29.
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“For a goalkeeper, that’s not too old. I’ve still got some years to go. I’m very happy at the club. I don’t know what will come in the future, but I’m open to everything.
“Maybe for a new adventure or to stay at Arsenal.
“Like I said, I don’t think about my future because two years is a long time.
“At the moment there are no conversations with the club or anything else.”
With such uncertainty in the Arsenal goal, the club may now come to regret letting Emiliano Martinez leave in the summer for Aston Villa, where the Argentine has proven a revelation and established himself as an elite Premier League stopper.
To put into perspective just how influential Martinez has been this season for the Villans, he currently boasts the best save percentage among ‘keepers in the Premier League for 2020/21 with over 10 appearances (75.64%), while Ryan actually ranks dead last in that same metric (53.33%).