Goalkeeper Jens Lehmann set to rejoin Arsenal

By David OrnsteinBBC Sport
Jens Lehmann
Lehmann spent five years at Arsenal before joining Stuttgart in 2008

Arsenal are close to signing 41-year-old Jens Lehmann for the rest of the season, BBC Sport understands.

Injuries to Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone have left Manuel Almunia as the only fit keeper.

The ex-Germany keeper played 199 times for Arsenal between 2003 and 2008 but has been a free agent since retiring in 2010 after two years with Stuttgart.

"Arsenal have a goalkeeping crisis and I jumped at the chance to help them," Lehmann told German newspaper Bild.

If the deal is done in time, he is likely to be included in the squad for Saturday's Premier League trip to West Brom.

Arsenal are three points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand as they seek to win their first trophy since Lehmann helped them to the FA Cup in 2005.

The Gunners have seen their hopes of lifting the Carling Cup, Champions League and FA Cup extinguished in the past fortnight.

Lehmann, who played 61 times for Germany, left Arsenal in 2008 after losing his place to Almunia and their pair openly admitted they did not enjoy a harmonious relationship.

"This time I'm looking forward to being in a back-up role and will look to support Almunia," Lehmann added. "We can still win the title."

The German keeper was part of Arsenal's "Invincibles" - the team that went unbeaten in winning the 2003-04 Premier League - and played a key role in that FA Cup final win over Manchester United in 2005.

The following year he was sent off in the first-half of Arsenal's Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in the Stade de France.

Between August 2003 and June 2007, Lehmann kept the second most clean sheets - 52 - in the Premier League, just one behind Chelsea keeper Petr Cech.

Before his first spell with Arsenal, the German keeper played for Schalke, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund.

Fabianski, who last played since for Arsenal in the 0-0 draw with Manchester City on 5 January, has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.

And his fellow Pole Szczesny will miss the next six weeks after dislocating his finger during the Champions League defeat by Barcelona last week.

Mannone, who has teen troubled by a thigh injury while on loan at Hull, is also out for six weeks.

The Italian keeper is receiving treatment at the Arsenal training ground.