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Stay at Premier League giants Arsenal as a backup keeper, or move to a rival as a first-choice starter: it’s the brutal dilemma facing Socceroos star Mat Ryan.

Ryan was axed from his starter’s role with Brighton and Hove Albion in December then loaned out to Arsenal in January – a dream move to the club he supported as a kid.

Now Football Insider reports Arsenal are in ‘advanced talks’ to turn that season-long loan into a permanent transfer.

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With the Seagulls seemingly happy with Ryan’s replacement between the sticks in Robert Sanchez, it appears Ryan’s future at Brighton is over.

And with his contract expiring at the end of the 2022 campaign, Brighton’s reported £10 million price tag back in January is likely to be slashed – meaning there’ll probably be plenty of interested parties for his services.

Ryan has made just two Premier League appearances for Arsenal so far, most recently a strong performance in a 1-1 draw against Fulham on the weekend.

“I picked him because he totally deserves to play, he trains like a beast, he’s got the right attitude and he needed a game. It was a great header,” Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said of the Australian after the game.

For now, there is no doubt that the 29-year-old is second in the pecking order behind German Bernd Leno.

But that might not remain the case for long, with Leno recently telling The Times that he was open to leaving Arsenal – and revealing he had not discussed a new contract with the club, with just over two years remaining on his present deal.

“I’m very happy at the club, he said. I don’t know what will come in the future, but I’m open to everything.”

For Arsenal, Ryan presents an ideal cut-price back-up to Leno.

But for the Australian, in the peak of his career and with a 2022 World Cup firmly on the horizon, waiting and hoping for Leno to leave – or be punted – is a huge gamble.

Arsenal is ‘the first club I ever loved’, he wrote upon his signing. Remaining there could offer him the chance to win a Premier League medal and other riches – and being installed as the club’s top keeper is always one unfortunate potential injury away.

But there’s no guarantee that Leno will leave, or that Ryan will replace him as top dog.

Two years – or more – as the backup could rob him of the chance to play dozens more games as a guaranteed starter somewhere else.

And without games, his role as Socceroos’ starter would be under a serious cloud – especially with rivals like Mitch Langerak in career-best and record-breaking form in Japan.

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