Vito Mannone has had a pretty decent start to the season with Arsenal, in fact he has generally been faultless in his displays since taking over from the injured Wojciech Szczesny and in the absence of original back-up Lukasz Fabianski.
The 24-year-old has had to be patient to earn his opportunity especially after a disappointing performance against Olympiakos in last season’s Champions League that threatened to define his North London career.
He arrived at Arsenal as a teenager on a compensation package after impressing scouts who had seen him playing for Atalanta and his talent is as obvious as his physique is bulky.
His English football career got back on track at the development land for a goalkeeper that is Hull City. Recently other big clubs have sent out their up and coming stoppers to the KC Stadium such as Ben Amos of Manchester United and Peter Gulacsi of Liverpool but Mannone made a big impact during his spell on Humberside. He broke records with his string of clean sheets under Nicky Barmby and now he has made it clear of his intention to take the number one spot from the Poland international stopper Szczesny.
Yet he may have also been very shrewd with his recent comments about a move back to Italy. He made quite light-hearted comments about a potential return to his homeland and dreams of being Italian number one during an interview with Italian paper Corriere della Sera.
It may be slightly premature of the confident custodian to suggest he is ready for a move to a club who could rival Arsenal for prestige but that seems to be what he has done in his declaration to hopefully play for AC Milan one day.
His favourite club, the Rossoneri are going through a rough patch at the moment. With a distinct lack of money off the pitch, the loss of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva on it and a general feeling of disillusion at the current running of the club.
Amid all these troubles is a first-choice keeper in Christian Abbiati whose best days have certainly passed him, a second choice in Marco Amelia who never endeared himself to the Milan mob and Gabriel, a promising Brazilian protégé not ready for the rigours of first-team football.
Has Mannone been very canny in his declaration at the perfect time? With the Italian’s looking for a new keeper a 24-year-old who has impressed in the Premier League who also happens to be a Rossonere himself is a great deal.
With Szczesny and Fabianski approaching full-fitness and Damian Martinez a talented stopper himself Arsenal may cash in on Mannone and he could get his dream move as early as January, when AC make wholesale changes to quell discontent.
He might have played a masterstroke.
image: © wonker