German 'Keepers in the Premier League
Following last week’s review of every goalkeeper in the Bundesliga, we turn our attention to the Germans stoppers who have plied their trade in the Premier League. It seems an appropriate topic given the return of Premier League players to training, a move closer to the return of the domestic game, following in the footsteps of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2.
They have had differing fortunes and some notoriety, which usually comes with the territory of famously outlandish German goalkeepers.
The only one in this list to win the Premier League, Jens Lehmann is very much the archetype of the German goalkeeper. Flammable, yet unbeatable, Lehmann spent six seasons with Arsenal over two spells.
Arriving from Dortmund in 2003, Lehmann played every game in the fabled ‘Invincibles’ season at Highbury and was a mainstay for Arsene Wenger’s side before leaving for Stuttgart in 2008.
Lehmann arrived with a big reputation having won league titles in Germany and Italy and added another in his inaugural season with the Gunners.
He added an FA Cup to that collection in 2005, the hero in the penalty shootout against Manchester United. However, on Arsenal’s biggest ever European night, Lehmann became the first ever goalkeeper to be sent off in a Champions League Final as his side fell to a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona, typical of his erratic nature which made him a few foes in the Premier League.
In the same year he took the gloves for the national team from the retired Oliver Khan after the 2006 World Cup, who he unsurprisingly had several run ins with, having been part of the Germany squad since USA ’94.
Amid an injury crisis at The Emirates, Lehmann came out of retirement and returned to Arsenal in 2011 but made just one appearance.
Unlike most German footballers Loris Karius will not be remembered for his consistency or fearless performances but will be immortalised in Liverpool folklore because of a disastrous Champions League night in Kiev.
Karius was part of Manchester City’s youth setup but left for Mainz before ever making a competitive appearance, but returned to England as an exciting prospect when he signed for Liverpool in 2016 for £4 million.
In his two seasons at Anfield, he and Simon Mignolet tussled for the number one spot as neither were reliable enough to hold it down, prompting the big money addition of Allison Becker in the summer of 2018.
The 2018 Champions League Final ultimately ended Karius’ Liverpool career, although he is still technically with the club after a two-year loan spell with Besiktas, has not played a game since and probably never will again.
The Germany Under-21 international was at fault for two goals in a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid, first after his lackadaisical throw bounced off Karim Benzema and deflected into the net, and the second fumbling an effort from Gareth Bale.
Liverpool won the trophy the following season, but Loris Karius will do well to shake off the stigma attached to him by his part in an ill-fated night in Kiev.
We return to Arsenal for this one and the most expensive German goalkeeper in history, Bernd Leno.
The full German international arrived from Leverkusen £22.5 million in 2018, having been part of the squad for the World Cup.
Defensive troubles had long since been an obvious issue for the Gunners for several seasons, the signing of Leno was seen as a big statement to rectifying that, as well as bringing in Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus.
David Ospina was sent out on loan to Napoli and Petr Cech’s declining form at the end of the previous season meant that the spotlight was very much on Leno when he arrived at the club.
An early-season injury to Cech meant that Leno would play most of Arsenal’s league games in his first season as Arsenal finished 5th, a place higher than the previous campaign but again missing out on a Champions League place.
Leno was enjoying a decent spell before the suspension of football, as Mikel Arteta’s rebuild at The Emirates was starting to bare fruit following a disastrous start to the 2019/20 campaign which resulted in the sacking of Unai Emery.
It still very much early days in Leno’s Premier League adventure and under the stewardship of Mikel Arteta, could be part of the renaissance if Arsenal Football Club.