Schwarzer still wants to come to Arsenal, but do we want him?

By Graham McNorthbank

It seems like Fulham No.1 choice Mark Schwarzer is eager to force through a January transfer to Arsenal to allow him to fulfil an ambition to play in the Champions League.

Now while it's always great to hear that a player wants to come to the Gunners, I have to say that hand on heart I'm hoping that the Australian stopper remains at Craven Cottage.

And no, it's not because of Lukasz Fabianski's flash of form. Far from it.

I've been saying for a long long time that it's baffling for a team like Arsenal to have such poor options between the sticks.

If you look at our regular first team squad there is only one player who does not have a single national cap to his name and that's our first choice keeper Manuel Almunia.

I know I'm going over old ground, but surely goalkeeper is the one position where you definitely do want your man to be a full international?!

Of course Lukasz Fabianski has notched up a number of full caps for Poland, while even Wojciech Szczesny has one full cap and Vito Mannone has time wearing the gloves as an under-21 keeper, meaning that at the ages of 20 and 22, the young Pole and Italian players have more international experience than 33-year-old Almunia.

Does that mean they are better? Of course not, but the potential is obviously there.

And then there's Schwarzer. Today marks his 38th birthday and coupled with nearly 80 caps for Australia he is undoubtedly vastly more experienced than our lot. On the flip side, he's never played in the Champions League, while Almunia has played in the final.

But the question is, is Schwarzer an improvement on what we already have?

I would argue he is not. The statistics, I believe, point to Schwarzer having a better saves per shots ratio and the hint is that in addition to being a squad member he could double up as a goalkeeping coach, but I'm sorry, I remain unconvinced.

Should we sign a new goalkeeper? Yes, I think it should be a priority and it should have been priority number one all summer.

But I strongly believe we should be signing a goalkeeper at the top of his game, not one who is on the wane.

And for those who believe that an older keeper at the end of his career is a good option to bridge the years needed for Szczesny to come good, you are deluded.

The goalkeeper is arguably the most important position in a team, so why we would we treat that role with any less respect than the rest.

For example, if we had a promising young striker coming through, how many of us would be happy for the club to sign an aged veteran up front as a cheap stop gap? This is Arsenal, one of the powerhouses in European football and where we don't have home grown talent we should be targeting the very best to help us maintain our place as contenders.

If indeed the club and Arsene Wenger are serious about the club competing for the Premier League and the Champions League, then surely spending some of the millions we have in the bank (£127.6 m in cash according to the last accounts) to invest in a world class, proven international goalkeeper AND a new goalkeeing coach to bring through the youngsters to challenge for the position isn't too much ask for.

The lure of Champions League football isn't just a carrot for Schwarzer - there are plenty of keepers out there who want to play at the top level. So let's aim high, not settle for mediocre when it comes to strengthening the last line of defence.