Arsenal fans always love their comparisons, so when Bernd Leno joined, it was Jens Lehmann all over again. Which actually isn’t that crazy.
Of course, all of those are completely batty and woefully inaccurate. Aubameyang was much older than Henry, Xhaka was a completely different player. But Leno? Comparing Leno to Lehmann isn’t all that crazy.
First, let’s get the obvious things out of the way—Leno is not a “Mad German.” He doesn’t have that crazy personality type that pairs so well with his performances on the pitch. Leno also has yet to win any trophies with the Gunners, let alone an Invincible season. These are the obvious differences between the two.
Arsenal may have the next Jens Lehmann in Bernd Leno
But in judging the quality of the two, there’s a lot to say about the similarities. Both are German, obviously. Both come from the Bundesliga, and both are/were ticketed for fantastic things with Arsenal Football Club.
As most of you know, I generally shy away from comparisons of any kind, because no two players are created equal. But for Leno, throw any comparison you want and I’ll tell you how he’s up to the task. While Lehmann made over 200 appearances for the Gunners, he did it later on in his career, having joined Arsenal well into his 30s. So by that standard, Leno may be ticketed for even better things than Lehmann, depending on how the club fills in around him.
Lehmann had the benefit of a tremendous defense in front of him, anchored by Sol Campbell. Leno doesn’t have that yet, but with the likes of William Saliba on the way, the wall is fortifying in front of Leno to the point that the new German may start putting up even better numbers than he already is.
Which will undoubtedly draw more comparisons to the old German.
Leno should be a shoo-in for the player of the season this year, as his performances alone have been inspired from start to finish. He’s weeded out the individual mistakes, he’s improved across the board and at just 28-years-old, he could feasibly give us another decade of top-quality goal-keeping.
So yeah, he absolutely can follow in the footsteps of his much-esteemed German predecessor. Madness excluded.