Fulham signed Roma Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg on a four-and-a-half year deal on Wednesday.
The former Ajax goalkeeper had moved to Roma two years ago amidst the interest from a host of Premier League clubs including Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Fulham signed the absolute gem of a goalkeeper while Arsenal missed out on a real coup.
Dutch international, Stekelenburg had enjoyed his career at Ajax before moving to Stadio Olimpico.
He rose into prominence under the tutelage of current Fulham boss Martin Jol at Amsterdam and Stekelenburg was eager to rejoin him in Premier League.
In 2001, Fulham had captured Premier League’s best goalkeeper in last decade with the signing of a 30-year-old Edwin Van der Sar.
Van der Sar soon rose into prominence during his four-year stint in the capital. Later he went on to protect Manchester United’s posts for the next six years to become one of the finest keepers in the Premier League era.
Once Van der Sar stepped down from National team duties, it was Stekelenburg who replaced him.
Stekelenburg followed in his footsteps by moving from Ajax to the Premier League in a similar fashion as well. He plied his trade in Seria A for two seasons before moving to Premier League at the age of 30. If Van der Saar did it with Juventus, Stekelenburg chose Roma for the vital Italian experience.
Both the goalkeepers are 197cm tall and possess excellent game reading skills to earn their way into the top. Other key attributes in Stekelenburg’s goalkeeping kitty are his technical abilities.
He reacts quickly to the situations and is a good distributor of the ball. More than the statistical comparisons, it is the ability of Stekelenburg that makes him special and destined for success.
Fulham have signed an outstanding goalkeeper in many ways. Netherlands' number one custodian is about to enter the peak years for a goalkeeper and what if he gets better with time! He is surely going to become the best in the league.
Tottenham and Arsenal, who were chasing for his signature, had missed out on a vital player. With the addition of Hugo Lloris last summer, Spurs had strengthened this department earlier and had a settled look on the field as well.
On the other hand, Arsene Wenger with his nurturing young talent policy had missed out an absolute steal. Their young custodian is still learning the goalkeeping lessons and had committed a number of mistakes leading to goals in previous season.
Those had increased the claims and the need for an experienced goalkeeper to man their posts. Still Wenger missed out on the chance to plug the hole in his defence with Stekelenburg’s addition.
It looks like Arsenal’s loss is going to be Fulham’s gain. Can Van der Sar’s successor repeat his magic at Fulham as well? It will be too early to say what will happen after four years.
But it isn’t impossible and Stekelenburg is capable of doing exactly the same.
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