Goalkeeping legend Brad Friedel believes compatriot Matt Turner has the quality to “put pressure” on Aaron Ramsdale and challenge him for Arsenal’s No. 1 shirt when he officially joins the club in the summer.
The 12-capped USMNT international completed a transfer to the north London club earlier this month for an undisclosed fee from New England Revolution, which will see him link up with his new team-mates at the end of this current Premier League season.
With the expectation that current back-up ‘keeper Bernd Leno will leave at the end of 2021/22, Turner will likely be coming in to fill a potential void and offer sturdy competition for a player who has been one of the club’s more influential figures on the pitch this term.
Ramsdale has seriously impressed between the sticks for Mikel Arteta’s men in his maiden campaign at the Emirates, boasting the second-best save percentage in the Premier League for goalkeepers with appearances in the double figures (78.21% — behind only Jose Sa, 82%), while keeping the third-most clean sheets (11).
However, Friedel — who made 450 appearances in the Premier League during his playing career — is someone who knows Turner particularly well, having handed the 27-year-old his MLS debut during his tenure as New England Revolution manager — and he believes his former protege isn’t just joining Arsenal to make up the numbers.
“Matt is an outstanding shot-stopper,” Friedel told Squawka via bet365. “He’ll be able to compete and put pressure on the goalkeepers already at Arsenal, no doubt.
“This will be the first time in Matt’s career that he will see, well and truly, what competition for places is like.
“It will be interesting to see how he copes with it all, but can he challenge? Yes of course, he’s a very good goalkeeper — but like anyone you have to get used to the pace of the Premier League.
“It’s a good move for him because he’s joining Arsenal midway through the MLS season, so he will be fit and get a full pre-season under him to fully acclimatise.”
Friedel’s assertion comes after the New Jersey-born gloveman insisted last week that he is joining the Gunners to try and displace Ramsdale — and not to just enjoy a cushy sinecure on the sidelines as a back-up goalkeeper.
“When I got my first chance with the national team, it was only as a No. 3,” Turner said.
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“No one ever really took me seriously, so I’m not going over there just to collect a cheque and ride off into the sunset.
“I’m going to push myself, I’m going to push Aaron and continue to help him get better and help myself get better.”
Since making his debut under Friedel in the Revs’ 2018 MLS curtain-raiser against Philadelphia Union, Turner has gone from strength to strength and is now a mainstay in the national side, regularly donning the gloves ahead of Man City ‘keeper Zack Steffen.
Arteta knows he will be getting an international starter, as well as a very competent and authoritative presence at the back. In the 2021 MLS campaign, Turner was a standout performer in several goalkeeping metrics, including most caught crosses (28) and high claims (30) — highlighting his aerial strengths as he clinched the 2021 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award.
It’s an aspect of his game that should serve him well in the Premier League — a division renowned for his its physicality and set-piece expertise.
With both Turner and Ramsdale eyeing up places in this year’s World Cup for their respective nations, Arteta can look forward to having a fiercely competitive and driven dressing room come the start of next season.