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Blast from the past: Lehmann to sign for Arsenal

Arsene Wenger confirms that deal for former No 1 is agreed – but not signed.
Mar 17th 2011, 4:12 PM 157 0

FORMER GERMANY INTERNATIONAL Jens Lehmann is coming out of retirement at the age of 41 to solve Arsenal’s goalkeeping crisis.

Lehmann, who left Arsenal in the summer of 2008 after a five-year spell with the Premier League club, is expected to sign a contract until the end of the season.

“We have no cover in the Premier League, so that is why I decided to bring Jens back,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said earlier. “He has not signed, but it (a contract) has been agreed.”

Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone are all currently out injured, leaving Wenger with just one fit goalkeeper — Manuel Almunia.

“Lehmann is training with us and will sign for the rest of the season”

Lehmann, who played 61 times for Germany, could be in Arsenal’s squad for Saturday’s Premier League match at West Bromwich Albion if he completes his move in time.

He retired last year when his contract expired at Stuttgart after two seasons with the Bundesliga team.

After lengthy stints at German sides Schalke and Borussia Dortmund, Lehmann joined Arsenal in 2003 and was part of the team that won the English title in 2004 — when the Gunners went through the season unbeaten.

Lehmann was also sent off in the first half of their loss to Barcelona in the Champions League final in Paris in 2006. He played 199 games for Arsenal in his career. By the end of his time at the Emirates Stadium, Lehmann’s rivalry with Almunia had become intense, with the German claiming that being dropped at the expense of the Spanish goalkeeper was a “humiliation.”

Lehmann’s experience should come in handy for Arsenal, which has been criticized for lacking leaders in the locker room as its season starts to unravel. The Gunners lost the League Cup final to Birmingham on Feb. 27 and have since been eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona and the FA Cup by Manchester United.

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Arsenal still has the Premier League to play for. The team is three points behind league leader United, which has played a game more.

Goalkeeper is not the only position where Arsenal is struggling for cover. Wenger said Thursday that Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen, who hasn’t featured for the team since August because of an Achilles’ tendon injury, was ruled out for the rest of the season while fellow center back Johan Djourou was out for six weeks.

Djourou dislocated his shoulder in the second half of Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat at United in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup on Saturday.

- AP

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