Marco Silva hailed Bernd Leno as “one of the three best goalkeepers in the country” ahead of the Fulham stopper’s meeting with his former club Arsenal at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
Leno was one of Fulham’s key additions in the summer after they secured promotion to the top flight by winning the Sky Bet Championship.
So far this season he has kept seven clean sheets in the league and made 96 saves, all while making no errors directly leading to a goal.
The German slotted into the Fulham line-up almost immediately and has earned the praise of his manager.
“We knew his quality because we were really patient. He was our first and only target for that position,” Silva said.
“We waited for the time that we needed to get him inside.
“He really wanted to join us and to embrace the challenge with us, but from the first day I said it was really important.
“We wanted to see and define our targets and of course my conversations with Bernd were important.
“We have to be really pleased to have him with us and our fans have to be pleased to have a goalkeeper like him in our football club.
“I don’t have doubts he’s one of the three best goalkeepers in the country, in this competition.”
Leno is one of three Fulham players to have previously represented the Gunners, along with Cedric Soares and Willian, and Silva admitted he will be speaking to them ahead of Sunday’s clash.
“We have Bernd and we have Cedric,” Silva said.
“Of course it (Arsenal) is something that we can talk (about), we have more sessions, we have a session (on Saturday).
“To be honest, it’s so clear what they do and how they do it. They do it simply but they do it really well.
“It will not be the first time that we played against them.
“We know everything – of course in some chats with them (Leno and Cedric) we can learn something more, but it is clear what they try to do.”
Willian fell out of favour at Arsenal after joining on a free transfer in 2020, registering just one goal and five assists across his 25 appearances for the club.
His time at the Emirates Stadium was disappointing, but he has found new form with Fulham and has impressed throughout the campaign.
“He’s been brilliant, he’s done really well,” Silva said.
“A really humble person and a top, top player, we just have to keep him as fit as we can and keep (him) playing with a smile on his face, that’s the most important thing for me and for us a football club.”