Bernd Leno has slammed Arsenal over his treatment by the club and claims that his departure was due to “politics” and not performances.
After making 125 appearances across a four-year spell at the Emirates Stadium, the 30-year-old moved to Fulham on a permanent deal worth up to £8m last month, signing a three-year contract.
Leno lost his place as Arsenal’s number-one goalkeeper following the arrival of Aaron Ramsdale, and the Germany international made only eight appearances across all competitions last season.
The shot-stopper was then pushed further down the pecking order by summer arrival Matt Turner, who is now regarded as the club’s number two by manager Mikel Arteta.
Leno has now made the switch across London to Fulham, and he has explained why it was clear for him to leave the Gunners this summer.
“When I realised that it wasn’t about performance or quality, I knew that I had to go,” Leno told Sport BILD.
“In preparation, I saw that it is not about performance, but only about politics. It was clear to me: I had to get out of here.”
Shortly after Leno’s departure, Arteta stated that the goalkeeper was allowed to leave in search of regular first-team football, which he would not be guaranteed at the Emirates.
“For Bernd at the end, it was just a professional relationship that he wanted to sustain because he’s a player that for the past 11 years has always started games and he’s so used to it,” Arteta told reporters last month.
“[He’s] a man who will be remembered here and it’s been a privilege to work with him, but in football you have to make decisions and try to get the best out of your players to play the way you want to play, and Bernd has found a move that he and his family are really happy with, and we wish him all the best.”
Leno, who has been capped nine times at international level, has not represented Germany since February 2021, but he is now keen to impress at Fulham and break into Hansi Flick squad for the World Cup later this year.
“The most important thing for me is to find my rhythm again,” the goalkeeper added.
“Especially after I wasn’t actually able to train properly at Arsenal and had no preparation. It’s up to me to get the focus back on the national team.”
Leno has played between the sticks in each of Fulham’s last four Premier League matches, including the 2-1 defeat away at Arsenal on August 27.
The Cottagers, who currently sit 10th in the Premier League table, are now preparing for a West London derby on Saturday lunchtime at home to managerless Chelsea, who sacked Thomas Tuchel on Wednesday.