It should be no surprise that Fulham’s German shot-stopper has settled into life in SW6 so quickly.
Fulham’s exploits in the opening months of the 2022/23 season may have raised a few eyebrows outside of Craven Cottage, but they really shouldn’t. The Cottagers have learned from the mistakes of the past and always looked well-prepared to face this Premier League challenge head on.
Quality has been favoured over quantity in the transfer market, with some shrewd recruitment ticking plenty of important boxes in West London. Marco Silva now has enough talent and top-flight know-how at his disposal to rub shoulders with the very best in the business.
Let us know in the replies 👇 pic.twitter.com/uHgTE6ufqJ— Premier League (@premierleague) November 25, 2022
Willian, Issa Diop and Andreas Pereira were among those drafted in with prior experience of life in one of the most demanding divisions in world football. Then, in a vital area of the field, there was proven shot-stopper Bernd Leno.
The German goalkeeper could have been forgiven for staying put at Arsenal, allowing him to compete for game time at a club that has shortened to 11/5 in Premier League title odds, but personal ambition burned much brighter than filling a bit-part role.
Such a stance is to be applauded, with it refreshing to see players in the modern era stepping out of their comfort zone and taking on new challenges when sitting tight – especially when they’re on the books of a supposed heavyweight outfit – would be the easy option.
Leno made it clear from the moment that he lost a starting berth at the Emirates Stadium that he wasn’t prepared to accept back-up duty. When the chance to move across London presented itself, he grabbed it with two of the most reliable hands around.
He said upon arriving at Fulham: “I’m relieved that everything is done. I’m just happy to be here. It took a little bit of time but in the end we made it, and that’s the most important thing.” Vice-chairman Tony Khan added on the arrival of a seasoned performer: “He has played at the highest level, and he’ll bring this experience and his leadership to our team. He’ll be a great addition to Marco’s squad.”
That has proven to be the case, with it remarkable to think that such pedigree could be required for an initial outlay of £3 million – with the potential there for a further £5 million in add-ons.
Leno may have kept just two clean sheets prior to the World Cup break, but he has made 59 saves – a record that has only been bettered by two players in the Premier League. His value to the collective cause is clear for all to see.
— Bernd Leno (@Bernd_Leno) August 3, 2022
That’s no real surprise, given all that he is achieved, with nobody having graced the level he has while earning nine international caps for their country without having a bit of something about them.
Fulham’s transfer team probably could not believe their luck when they learned Arsenal were willing to do business at such an attractive asking price; there was always little risk involved in a deal that has allowed the Cottagers to build a bright start to the current campaign on the sturdiest of foundations.