Arsenal spark £31m transfer confusion with possible next deal after contract announcement

Aaron Ramsdale during an England training session
-Credit: (Image: Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

Just three weeks ago, and shortly before his deal was due to expire, Karl Hein signed a new contract with Arsenal. Having joined the club in 2018, coming from his home country Estonia as a highly-rated young goalkeeper, Hein has only made one senior appearance for the Gunners.

However, with uncertainty around the entire goalkeeping situation at Arsenal, an extra 12 months have been added onto his stay, taking him now up to next summer. In the grand scheme of things, though, very little has changed.

Arsenal have David Raya as their first choice - with the only permanent piece of business completed so far this summer being the long-awaited confirmation of his move from Brentford for £27million - and that is as far as things are set in stone. Hein has signed but understands that there are hopes he will leave on loan to gain senior experience. Aaron Rasmdale remains but is another looking for an exit.

Whether temporary or permanent himself, Ramsdale is keen to get himself back into the thinking as a Premier League No.1 having spent much of last term on the bench at the Emirates Stadium. It is in this world that the Gunners are reportedly in talks to bring in Wolves backup Dan Bentley.

Two years ago the Englishman was in a battle to keep the gloves at Bristol City as a mid-table Championship option, now he is being pursued by the Premier League's runners-up for consecutive seasons. On the face of it there is little to read into.

Clubs often take experienced professionals - Bentley is 30 with over 400 appearances, almost all of them at various levels of the EFL - to be their third choice, but this is slightly different. Should Bentley arrive this summer then there is a chance it would leave Arsenal with three backup options, two of which would rather be elsewhere and actually playing.

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The contract decisions made for Hein and Ramsdale - who himself only signed an extension 12 months ago - leave things in a curious state of limbo. Currently, it is only Raya who is happy with the situation, and even if Ramsdale is a brilliant character, he does not want to be sitting on the sidelines again.

Bentley, who only joined Wolves in January 2023, has similarly had to put up with being a reserve for Gary O'Neil, but has been described in glowing terms for playing the role well. Wolves aren't said to be keen on letting him go easily though, with a replacement needed.

All of this poses plenty of questions for Arsenal, because if Bentley was to join then it would free up at least one of Hein or Ramsdale to go, but in the case of the latter, it is not proving easy. Not only did Ramsdale cost over £25million (which could rise by an extra £6million) but his form in the past 18 months has been hit-and-miss, to be generous.

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Newcastle were interested in trying to reignite the fire for Ramsdale, but that has since waned. Meanwhile, Chelsea have also been regularly mentioned alongside the 26-year-old but nothing has come of supposed admiration.

Heading into pre-season there is a lot to be decided and the arrival of Bentley, or even initial conversations over a move for him, complicates matters again. For now, there are too many moving parts and the unknowns outweigh the certainties. Bentley being eyed points towards at least one of Ramsdale or Hein leaving, but which one and for how long is much less obvious.

Arsenal are already having to be open to the possibility that Ramsdale, who is a better goalkeeper but doesn't want to remain as the second choice and is more valuable and sellable, stays. But if both he and Hein were to get their wishes then Bentley would have to be followed up by another addition, or the promotion of a Hale End graduate.

A few years ago that might have been Arthur Okonkwo, but he has left the club to join Wrexham having not been retained by the Gunners. It is yet another factor in the revolving door of behind-the-scenes Arsenal goalkeeping conundrums for Arteta to manage.