David Ospina: 10 Things You Need to Know about Arsenal’s New Signing
When Lukasz Fabianski left the club on a Bosman, it was cast in stone that Arsenal was going to secure the services of a new goalkeeper that would challenge Wojciech Szczesny for his starting place. With the captures of Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy, the fans were expectant of seeing new faces and Wenger inadvertently hinted that David Ospina was on his way to the Emirates,
“You know at the start Szczęsny will be the number one, then again it’ll be down to performances and, if Ospina shows that he is better, he will play.”
The official site has revealed that Arsenal has secured the services of the Colombian shot stopper for an undisclosed fee (wondering why it’s always ‘undisclosed’ at Arsenal) and Arsene Wenger had some sweet words for the new recruit,
“David Ospina is an excellent goalkeeper, with good experience and a proven record of performing with Nice and Colombia. He will add strength to our squad and we are very pleased that he will be joining us.”
The battle between Ospina and Szczesny is one that would benefit the club and I’m looking forward to it. Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Arsenal’s new signing.
He’s James “Hamez” Rodriguez’ Brother-in-law
Hamez Rodriguez was a star in the making right from his FC Porto days but he was out of the spotlight a bit when he joined AS Monaco last season for 45m Euros. The Colombian star put up consistent performances for his team and following Radamel Falcao’s knee injury, the nation hinged their hopes on Rodriguez in the recently concluded World Cup and boy, did he deliver.
While Hamez won plaudits for his exploits on the pitch, I’m pretty certain that his mind was focused on his wife and David Ospina’s younger sister, Daniela and their beautiful daughter, Salome.
He’s the Second Youngest Goalie to Start for Colombia
Ospina represented Colombia at Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 level before making his debut for the national team at the age of 21, making him the second youngest goalkeeper to represent Colombia.
Ospina has gone on to make 48 caps for his country and he had a great World Cup by his standards.
He Replaced Hugo Lloris at OGC Nice
Hugo Lloris currently captains France and has been a household name in world football for a very long time but his career actually began in his hometown, Nice. He made his debut as a teenager in October 2005 and started in goal during the team’s run to the 2006 Coupe de la Ligue Final.
After excelling at the club for three seasons (made 77 appearances), Lloris moved to Olympique Lyonnais before securing a move to Tottenham years later. When Lloris left Nice in 2008, the French outfit signed Ospina from Atletico Nacional.
He Suffered an Awkward Injury in the 2011 Copa America
Since making his debut in 2010, Ospina was a first-team regular for Colombia and he helped the country qualify for the Copa America a year later, which was to be hosted by Argentina. In a pre-match training, Hugo Rodallega charged down a pass outside the box, and caught Ospina in the face with his shoulder when the goalkeeper came out to kick the ball clear. Ospina laid motionless on the ground and he had to receive swift medical treatment.
That injury ruled him out of the tournament but Colombia still went on to top the group that had Bolivia, Costa Rica and the hosts, Argentina. Colombia was knocked out by Peru in the quarterfinals.
His Disciplinary Record at Nice was a Concern
Ospina’s time at Nice was marred by the abnormal amount of cards he amassed (11 yellows and four reds) due to his erratic nature. He has been sent off when he lost his temper on the pitch but in this video showing the match highlights between P.S.G and Nice, Ospina earned himself a red card (In the 2′ 17″ mark of the video) when he scythed Ezequiel Lavezzi in the box.
At Arsenal, he’d need to put his temper in check because English fans would be quick to bring out their pitchforks and torches if he tries such a feat in the Premier League.
He Almost Secured a Move to Besiktas SK
In 2012, Ospina’s performances in Nice caught the eye and Turkish giants, Besiktas SK, set their sights on the Colombian goalie. After a protracted transfer saga, Nice called off the deal due to financial constraints faced by the Turks. Besiktas were in hot soup at the point in time as their failure to pay their staff and wages brought them some sanctions from UEFA.
He Made his Professional Debut at 17
Keepers are usually known for being late bloomers but Ospina began his career at quite an early age.
In Atletico Nacional, Ospina had already won back to back Colombian league titles as a first-choice shot stopper. Atletico Nacional was where he plied his trade and where he produced the form that earned him a move to Europe. He notched 97 appearances for the Colombian outfit in three seasons.
He’s Fearless in the Air
Since his move from Atletico Nacional to OGC Nice, Ospina has featured consistently for the French outfit. While he was renowned for being an excellent shot stopper and dominant in his box, one of Ospina’s remarkable traits is his aerial ability. Last season, he had an amazing 98% claims in the box which showed that he literally got every aerial ball in the box he went for, which is a show of great decision making.
His Stats were Better than Wojciech Szczesny Last Season
PSG’s Salvatore Sirigu won the Golden Glove award in the Ligue 1 last season by conceding the least amount of gaols (23) in the division but there were several contenders for the crown. Lille’s Vincent Enyeama earned plaudits for his amazing clean sheet run but his save success rate (77.4%) were considerably less than Sirigu’s 78.5%. However, Ospina had a remarkable save success rate of 80.2% compared to Szczesny’s 73% at Arsenal.
Nice lost all the nine games Ospina missed out, conceded an average of two goals per game but when Ospina was between the sticks, Nice won 12 games with an average of 1.45 points per game. The graphical illustration below juxtaposes between Szczesny and Ospina stats last season.
Despite featuring in less games than Szczesny, Ospina edged past the Pole in saves per game, save success, goals conceded per game and crosses claimed. Many might be quick to point out the gulf in quality between the English Premier League and Ligue 1 but I feel that doesn’t necessarily apply with goalkeepers.
His Farewell from Nice was Very Emotional
It’s never easy saying goodbye especially when you leave a club that made you what you are in the world of football. In 2008, Nice’s gaffer, Frederic Antonetti, signed a relatively unknown 19-year-old Colombian and thrust him straight into first-team action. Losing a local hero like Hugo Lloris to Lyon was a big wrench, so replacing him with an untested Colombian kid was a bold move by the manager, which ended up playing off.
After six years and close to 200 appearances, this lad is about to start a new adventure in his life and this video showed how he was teary while bidding farewell to his teammates and the staff of OGC Nice.
Welcome to Arsenal, David Ospina.
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