Vito Mannone joined Arsenal in the summer of 2005 from Atalanta as a promising young ‘keeper who was prone to occasional mistakes. Three years on and he is now Arsenal’s third choice goalie and has been rewarded with a place in the first team squad.
After some impressive performances during his debut season for the under-18s, Vito joined Barnsley on loan at the start of the 2006/2007 campaign. However, his time at the Owls didn’t provide many happy memories for the Italian. After playing second fiddle to Nick Colgan in his first few games, Vito got his chance against Luton but a mistake in that game which led to Luton scoring the winner.
He returned to Arsenal and after a spell out injured, he began to establish himself as the reserves’ no.1. He had become more calm and composed and his grasp of the English language meant that he could pass on information to his team-mates more easily. There were still occasional mistakes, but all goalkeepers are inclined to make a few errors, especially during the early stages of their career.
Last season was a big one for Vito. Not only did he feature on the bench for first-team fixtures in the Carling Cup and Premier League, but he also done enough in the reserves to convince Arsene Wenger that he is good enough for the first-team.
After spending time on trial at Gretna ahead of a possible loan move there last summer, Vito decided to return to Arsenal instead. It was the best decision of his fledgling career so far. Vito made 14 appearances for the second string last campaign, keeping five clean sheets. The best moment of 2007/2008 for Vito was away to Reading, where he saved a last minute penalty from Shane Long to earn Arsenal a draw.
Next season could see him make his first-team debut in the Carling Cup, although Lukasz Fabianski is set to continue in that competition next season. Although Vito is now part of the first team squad, we will still be following the progress he makes at the club.
Vito will take the no.24 shirt next season, taking over from Manuel Almunia who has been promoted to no.1 New signing Aaron Ramsey will wear no.16, whilst Carlos Vela takes the no.12 jersey.