MLS

Matt Turner Leaves New England Behind for EPL’s Arsenal

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The biggest news of this 2022 MLS season arguably came before the first ball was kicked this past winter.

Back in February, New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner, who played a major role in the United States Men’s National Team‘s efforts to qualify for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar late last year and early this year before sustaining a right foot injury in the frigid USMNT vs. Honduras CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier on Feb. 2, signed a transfer deal with Premier League side Arsenal.

The deal is to take effect on Friday, July 1.

Given that Matt Turner, who turned 28 years of age on June 24 when he relocated to England, would need time to travel from America to England to get acclimated to his new home and complete the necessary physicals for the transfer to be officially completed, New England’s June 19 home match against Minnesota United FC would be his final MLS appearance before the move.

The Particulars of Matt Turner’s Transfer to Arsenal

When the transfer deal to send Matt Turner to Arsenal was agreed upon by the parties on Feb. 11, these terms were disclosed:

  • A verbal agreement was made between Arsenal and the Revolution to acquire the veteran goalkeeper’s services on Jan. 27, just hours ahead of the USMNT’s CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier at Lower.com Field against El Salvador to begin the penultimate qualifying window. The Americans won that evening, 1-0 on the strength of a 52nd-minute goal by left-back Antonee Robinson.
  • New England will receive a minimum of $6 million (USD) in allocation money as a result of the transfer deal to send Turner to Arsenal, and this figure could potentially swell to as high as $10 million (USD) with economic benefits.
  • Initially, Arsenal had attempted to acquire Matt Turner via transfer ahead of the February window, but the move was postponed until the opening of the summer transfer window to allow New England to find a successor as the Revolution’s starting goalkeeper.

The move to send Matt Turner to Arsenal through the transfer window this year had been the subject of rumors and conjecture for a week ahead of the verbal agreement being finalized by the parties.

Bruce Arena’s Initial Comments Regarding Matt Turner’s Transfer

Upon the news breaking on the verbal agreement that Matt Turner would be joining Arsenal with the opening of the summer transfer window in July, New England Revolution head coach and sporting director, Bruce Arena, discussed the matter on Boston’s WBZ-FM, 98.5 The Sports Hub (the Revolution’s flagship radio station) during the Zolak and Bertrand midday show, hosted by longtime New England Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak and Marc “Beetle” Bertrand.

“I think if things work out the right way, we’ll probably lose him in the summer and he’ll be with us for the first half of the season,” Arena said in January. “We’re in negotiations now with Arsenal to discuss whether we can complete the transfer. But the likelihood is pretty strong.”

Bruce Arena

Gregg Berhalter Speaks on Turner’s Transfer to Arsenal

As previously mentioned, the news that Arsenal and the New England Revolution would be entering into a verbal agreement to send Matt Turner to the Premier League through the transfer window this summer broke while the USMNT was in its January camp, prepping for the El Salvador match in Columbus.

COLUMBUS, OH – JANUARY 27: Matt Turner #1 of the United States reacts after defeating El Salvador during the World Cup qualifying game at Lower.com Field on January 27, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The news of Turner’s impending move to England didn’t bother him one bit, something that USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter pointed out in his media availability ahead of the World Cup Qualifier vs. El Salvador.

“For Matt, similar to the first window, where he was the clear starter going in based on Zack [Steffen’s] fitness, same case in this window, and he’s locked in and ready to go,” Berhalter said on Jan. 26. “You hear some transfer rumors going around, and you think that would distract the player and Matt’s the opposite. He’s able to tune that out and really focus on the task at hand of the game tomorrow. So I’ve been pleased with that, been pleased with his mindset. It shows how far he’s come to get himself in this position.”

Gregg Berhalter

Matt Turner Joins The Call-Up Podcast in May To Discuss Move to Arsenal

Last month, Turner was a guest on MLS’ The Call-Up podcast with hosts Susannah Collins and Jillian Sakovits.

Matt Turner pointed out at the start of his interview that he’s a rarity as far as guests on The Call Up are concerned in that he was a repeat guest of the podcast in May.

The goalkeeper talked about how the move to Arsenal comes at an interesting time when his wife is expecting their first child.

“The season of my life, it’s been a lot, obviously a lot going on, but it’s all really good stuff,” Turner said. “It’s all stuff that’s really exciting, it’s all life things that I’ve always wanted to accomplish and do. Obviously, with Ashley here, we’ve just been such a great partnership and team going through it all. She’s been such a rock star through this whole process and so supportive of me.”

Matt Turner

Turner’s wife has since relocated to England and is due to have the baby shortly.

Matt Turner Doesn’t Play in Last Game For New England Ahead of Arsenal Move

On June 19, the New England Revolution played Minnesota United FC in Foxboro, MA for Matt Turner’s last game in MLS ahead of his transfer to Arsenal.

FOXBOROUGH, MA – JUNE 19: New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner (30) salutes the fans before his final game before leaving for Arsenal in England before a match between the New England Revolution and Minnesota United FC on June 19, 2022, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For his final game in Major League Soccer, one would have surmised that at the very least, Turner would have been given some playing time as the Revolution’s netminder on Father’s Day, if not start the game at goalkeeper.

Instead, head coach Bruce Arena optioned to have Matt Turner serve as merely a spectator during Sunday evening’s match, with Arena instead starting Djordje Petrovic at goal.

While this no doubt disappointed the fans who traveled to Foxboro on Sunday who wanted to see Turner suit up as goalkeeper one final time, he made it up to them by signing autographs after the match… except in the case of one Tottenham Hotspur supporter.

Matt Turner playfully chastised the fan for having a Tottenham shirt, calling it “disgusting.”

Turner’s Final Thoughts Before Leaving New England

Even though Turner did not feature in his last match for the Revolution, he took no offense to the omission on an emotional evening for him.

“The emotional nature of it all is, it’s a lot,” Turner said in the postgame press conference. “I’m still 27-28, you know? I’m still learning how to cope with all that. On top of that, my wife is in England. So, I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. So, maybe I wouldn’t have put my best performance out there tonight, and then I’m kicking myself because I left on a bad note.”

Now, Matt Turner looks forward to the next chapter of his career on the pitch, as the 2022-23 Premier League season is about a month and a half away, opening the weekend of Aug. 5-7.

Arsenal’s first match of the new season will be the first match of the new season as a whole, when the Gunners meet Crystal Palace on the road on Aug, 5.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t much more left to say here but this:

Hats off to Matt Turner.

This is a man who did not even so much as play football until he was in high school, having been inspired by watching the 2010 World Cup in South Africa on television, and wasn’t even so much as invited to the MLS Scouting Combine ahead of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.

He never heard his name called during the draft six years ago and was signed to the New England Revolution based on a preseason trial, and now, look at Matt Turner.

He’s ready to take on the challenge of the Premier League later this summer.

Main Image Credits: Embed from Getty Images

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