Manero

Ospina’s Big Splash

By: Alfonso Duro

Arsène Wenger had a very clear explanation for his goalkeeper’s situation at the beginning of the year: David Ospina suffered “post–World Cup trauma.” This is a rare condition known to have affected only 0.005% of all World Cup competitors throughout history, but sadly the Cafetero goalie caught it.

According to his manager at Arsenal, his willingness to do well in Brazil with his national team cost him an injury that has kept him off of his new team’s lineup for over four months.

But the new year has brought forth a new chance for Ospina to shine, and so far he has wowed everyone in England.

Keeping a Starting Role, Harder Than Getting It: Ospina arrived in London in exchange for five million euros, after six years at Nice, and he was expected to become the long-term option for the Gunners, after years of looking for someone for the role. Wenger had tapped Casillas, Čech, Valdés, Memo Ochoa and many others, but ultimately, the World Cup appearances by the Colombian tipped the tables his way.

The new year has proven to open up new horizons for Ospina, and he has started two matches maintaining two clean sheets—quite impressive for a team that has a clear attacking mentality. However, the true test came in the FA Cup, as Wenger is known to play his least-desired goalkeeper in this competition. With Szczęsny starting against Brighton—and getting scored on twice—we can safely say Ospina is here to stay.

Making Arsenal a Smoking Gun: For years now, the defensive frailty of the Gunners has separated them from the greats in the Premier League and Champions League. Since the days of David Seaman, Arsenal has been haunted by their lack of a solid goalkeeping figure, and while Chelsea has jumped from Čech to Courtois, and United from Tim Howard to David de Gea, the club from Highbury has suffered greatly in finding a figure worthy of commanding respect on the goal.

Much as it happened with Lehmann, when he was subbed out for Spaniard Manuel Almunia, Szczęsny has now been set aside for the interest of Ospina, but the Colombian is a confirmed international star (no disrespect to Almunia, who was more known for his ever-changing hair color), and his appearance can give Arsenal the edge they have been looking for on the defensive end.

More Power for Colombia: With Ospina consistently getting playing time at a European giant, the number of superstars José Pékerman is able to line up for the Colombian national team continues to grow. Not that Ospina wasn’t succeeding at Nice, but much like James Rodríguez (Ospina’s brother-in-law, by the way) getting playing time at Real Madrid rather than at Monaco will benefit the Cafeteros greatly, David’s appearances with Arsenal are only bound to increase the valuation of the Colombian squad in the FIFA ranking.

Alongside Falcao, Cuadrado, Zapata, Ramos or Armero, Ospina now can help his national team succeed in Copa América leaning on the assurance that comes with playing for a top contender in Europe.

In a year when being a goalkeeper has become “the” thing, David Ospina has finally joined the European elite.

Alfonso Duro is a Spanish freelance writer. When he's not managing Google's agency in the United Arab Emirates (his current job), chances are he's watching and writing about soccer.