New Manager, New Goalkeeper, Renewed Hope over The Arsenal

Yesterday was a gay old day for Arsenal.

We awoke to the Adidas video. If this was not enough to warm the cockles of your heart ahead of the season, you might be best of sitting it out.

It is only this morning as I post the video back up that I realise it was a promotion video for the 3rd kit.

The video had its desired affect, and 98% of the fan base is now buzzing for Saturday. The less said about the 2% the better.

Then at 9pm last night, Arsenal dropped the news that Mikel Arteta had been promoted to manager.

This is a promotion of huge significance, and shows Arteta has the backing of the senior leadership team and board at Arsenal.

From head coach to manager means Arteta will now be involved in all aspects of the first team, not just the coaching. He will be more heavily involved in transfer, in building his own scouting team. Building the team in his mind. Not just coaching another mans vision.

Excellent news for those who do not like a Director of Football running the club.

At around the same time as the Arteta news was breaking, the Independent broke that Emi Martinez was set to join Aston Villa for around £15million.

The fee does feel a little light, but as it stands no other club is coming in for him.

With just 2 years on his contract to go, and Emi refusing to sign a new deal unless he had “guarantees of first team football”, Arsenal had 3 choices:

  1. Give Emi want he wants – Make him Arsenal number 1 after just 9 Premier League games. Casting aside Bernd Leno, one of our most consistent performers of the last 2 years. This would see Arsenal favour a 28-year-old keeper with just 15 top flight games under his over one with 300 games. It would be a huge risk.
  2. Risk Emi running down his contract – Tell Martinez that he will start the season as number one, but that he is not guaranteed that position. It is then a fair fight between Martinez and Leno for that number 1 shirt. This then risks Martinez dropping down to number 2, not signing a new deal and Arsenal selling for £5-6million next summer.
  3. Sell Emi – Even at £15million, Martinez is at the most valuable he has ever been at Arsenal. Last summer he was on the verge of a move back to Spain for about £3-4million. 9 league games on and Arsenal are trebling that. Sell, reinvest in someone cheaper, make Leno number one and have some cash left over.

And ultimately it is number 3 that seems to be happening.

Martinez wants first team football. He is 28-years-old now, in his peak years as a goal keeper. His 10 year career at Arsenal had giving him very little to shout about prior to this season.

A handful of games for The Arsenal and 6 loan deals taking from Oxford to Getafe, Wolverhampton, Rotherham, Sheffield and Reading.

For the first time in his career, he is in charge of his own destiny. He can choose whether to stay in London, compete for number 1 at Arsenal, or move to a club of his choosing and be undisputed number 1.

Life as a 2nd choice goal keeper is hard. You train hard, day in day out, only to sit on the bench for much of your career. Steve Harper famously went 6 seasons at Newcastle playing a total of 7 Premier League games.

In total, Harper was an unused substitute over 300 times!

Martinez wants first team football, and Arsenal should not step in his way.

Arsenal have reportedly enquired about David Raya as a replacement.

Raya is currently Brentford’s number 1, and played every game of the season in 2019/20 winning the Championship’s Golden Glove award.

Like Martinez, he is a foreign born, home-grown player; having been born in Barcelona but joining Blackburn at 17.

If Martinez leaves, Arsenal have no option but to replace him with a home grown player.

We currently have 18 non-home grown players, and with our remaining transfer targets being Ghanaian and French, that number could well become 20. We are only allowed 17.

So before even considering replacing Martinez, we already need to sell at least 3 non-home grown players to make space for 2 incoming. Signing a non-home grown 2nd choice keeper would just feel like a waste of a spot.

Once it is established that Arsenal will need a home grown keeper to replace Martinez, the list becomes a lot smaller. Tom Heaton of Aston Villa or Fraser Forster at Southampton would be two potential options. But both have suffered with injuries recently and would very much be a short term solution.

Joe Hart could have been in there, but he has joined Tottenham.

We are not going to spend big on someone like Nick Pope or Jack Butland, and neither would probably want to leave their current clubs to sit on the bench for Arsenal.

In Raya, Arsenal would be signing a 25-year-old keeper that is home grown, previously worked with Arsenal goal keeping coach Inaki Cana and set-piece specialist Andreas Georgson at Brentford and has played over 280 games in England.

Raya ticks a lot of boxes, and would cost significantly less than what we would receive for Martinez. That in turns raises funds to continue improving elsewhere on the pitch.

For those who might say “he is only 6ft”, Brentford had the best record in defending set pieces last year. You do not do that if you do not have a goal keeper who can not command his box.

A final thought of the day: If you are sitting moaning about Arsenal’s transfer activity this summer, labelling the club unambitious, go through your own Tweets first. Wanting to sell Aubameyang and sign Ryan Fraser is onot exactly showing ambition.

Have a good Friday. The Arsenal return tomorrow.

PS: Just wish Adidas would learn it is “The Arsenal”.

Keenos

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