Arsenal goalkeeper Deyan Iliev is set to leave the club on a permanent basis by signing a three-year contract with Belgian side Mechelen.
Iliev, who has been capped by Macedonia at U21 level, was a surprise deadline-day signing from FK Belasica two years ago, but, despite being afforded numerous opportunities to impress, he has struggled for consistency during his time in North London and was overtaken in the goalkeeping hierarchy last season by Matt Macey. He is likely to be involved in the first-team set-up at his new club.
Although he possesses impressive reflexes, Iliev’s time at Arsenal has been marred by some costly misjudgements, including a woeful mistake against Chelsea in the NextGen Series in 2013 and a red card against Barcelona in the UEFA Youth League last season. He started all of Arsenal’s matches in the latter competition during 2013/14, but kept just one clean sheet and was afforded only three starts for the U21 team.
With Damian Martinez back from loan, Macey developing well and Josh Vickers set to sign his first professional contract, Arsenal are well stocked for young goalkeepers at present, which means that Iliev’s departure will not have too much of an impact, especially as he was rather frozen out towards the end of last season.
Iliev is set to follow fellow goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in leaving the club, meaning that an opportunity may arise for either Martinez or Macey to be promoted to the first-team squad for next season.