Arsenal Transfer Rumors: Gunners Linked With Sunderland Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet

 
on April 11 2013 11:23 AM

Arsenal are being linked with a summer move for Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. The Gunners need a new goalkeeper and are reportedly keen on the Belgium international.

A report in The Daily Express suggests that Arsenal are encouraged by Mignolet's £5.5 million transfer fee. That's a relatively modest sum for an intelligent and agile shot stopper with a wealth of English Premier League experience.

Mignolet supplanted the often-injured Craig Gordon at Sunderland. He's also kept the once highly touted Keiren Westwood on the bench.

It's not hard to see why, given Mignolet's stellar performances. He has been the lone bright spot in a miserable season for the Black Cats.

The North East club are just one place above the bottom three and are only escaping the relegation zone on goal difference. They have Mignolet to thank for the positive part of that goal difference.

He has kept nine clean sheets this season. His timing, athleticism and reflexes have helped Mignolet produce heroics in the Sunderland goal.

Arsenal have first-hand experience of those heroics. In two games against Sunderland this season, the Gunners netted only one goal and Mignolet was the main reason why.

When the two teams battled to a goalless draw on the season's opening day, Mignolet was the star. He rebuffed several Arsenal chances, including a clutch of powerful long-range efforts from Santi Cazorla.

At just 24, Mignolet would be a superb addition for the Gunners. He may be seen as a second-tier option to primary target Asmir Begovic.

However, Mignolet can match the Bosnian as a shot stopper. The only area of difference is height. Mignolet is listed as 6'3", although he doesn't appear so tall.

Compare that to Begovic's towering 6'5" frame. Mignolet is not as dominant in aerial battles as Begovic can be.

That has to rate as a concern in the EPL. Goalkeepers are put under intense pressure for any high ball into the box. It is certainly something Arsenal's current 'keepers struggle to cope with.

However, it's not as though Mignolet regularly has trouble dealing with crosses. Arsenal have also improved in this area defensively.

With Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud in the box to repel set-pieces, Arsenal offer better protection for their goalkeeper.

Signing Mignolet as a cheaper alternative to Begovic, would allow Wenger to repair other holes in the squad. He would be free to spend big on acquiring an imposing centre-back and a creative wide midfielder.

Like Begovic, Mignolet's arrival would give Arsenal a quality, Premier League-ready goalkeeper who has his best years to come.

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