Fraser Forster currently plays for Celtic in the Scottish Premiership, and is widely recognised as the best goalkeeper the Scottish club have had in years. However, despite this being the case, it is thought that Forster is keen to move on from Parkhead, perhaps to the Premier League, as he wishes to give himself a new challenge. He previously played for Newcastle United, although he struggled to break into the first team, and was loaned out to several different clubs, including Norwich City, where he impressed. At 6 ft 7 in and just 26 years of age, Fraser Forster would surely be an ideal signing for any Premier League club looking for a goalkeeper.
Arsenal are one such club. With both Lukasz Fabianski and loanee Emiliano Viviano moving on this summer, Arsenal have been left with just one first team goalkeeper, in the form of Wojciech Szczesny, and his somewhat questionable understudy Damian Martinez, who has surprisingly been capped for Argentina already. The Gunners have been linked with the signature of Colombian stopper David Ospina, who currently plays for Nice in France, but there are some significant factors which would make Fraser Forster the better option.
Perhaps the most significant of these factors would be the fact that Forster would count as a homegrown player, something David Ospina would lack. The players currently registered as homegrown in Arsenal’s squad are Wojciech Szczesny, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin (although he may depart this summer), Damian Martinez, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott. The rules state that in a squad of 25 players, only 17 can be non-homegrown. Therefore, eight of these players must be homegrown. Of course, Nicklas Bendtner did also count as homegrown, but he was released by Arsenal at the end of last season. Seeing as the number currently stands at nine, with the futures of Francis Coquelin and Damian Martinez uncertain (Martinez may leave on loan, or may not even be included in the first-team squad), it would certainly be beneficial to add another homegrown player, particularly if the Gunners are planning to spend more money on foreign players, which seems to be the case (although Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin, who has been linked, would also count as homegrown).
Another reason for signing Fraser Forster would be his ‘big-game experience’, an area in which he far exceeds David Ospina. Whilst Forster has plied his trade in the Scottish Premiership, Celtic have come up against some big teams in the Champions League over the last few seasons, namely Barcelona. He has pulled off some outstanding saves against Barcelona, against whom Celtic have played four times over the last two seasons, earning him the nickname of “La Gran Muralla” (The Great Wall) from the Spanish press, a fine achievement indeed. Forster also pulled off a crucial save during a 2-1 win on 22 October 2013 over Ajax at Parkhead, saving from Thulani Serero, who seemed to be clean through on goal. Although David Ospina is a talented goalkeeper in his own right, he has rarely experienced such big-game exposure, having played for a relatively unremarkable Nice team for the last few years. You could argue that the World Cup would count as ‘big-game experience’, but certainly not to the magnitude of Barcelona. Forster also has some notable achievements to his name, in particular the club-record of 11 clean sheets in a row, a fine achievement indeed, particularly when you consider some of the legendary Celtic goalkeepers of the past. Finally, Forster was included in the England squad for the 2014 World Cup, and whilst he did not play, he did beat the likes of John Ruddy and promising young ‘keeper Jack Butland to the squad, which is a feat in itself.
In conclusion, Arsenal could do far worse than sign Fraser Forster, at least as a back-up to Wojciech Szczesny for the time being. He’s just 26 years old, so would provide a long-term fix, whilst also being slightly more experienced than 23-year-old Szczesny. Crucially, he would not command a colossal fee, probably somewhere in the region of £8m. With Arsenal in dire need of another first-team goalkeeper this summer, Fraser Forster really does seem like the ideal catch.